BUDGET COMMITTEE MEETING
October 26, 2004
(Commissioner’s Conference Room)
Chair David Crowell presided with Budget Committee Members Peter Sorenson, Bill Dwyer, Don Hampton, Mary Ann Holser, Scott Bartlett and Francisca Johnson. Bobby Green, Sr., Anna Morrison and Kathy Keable were excused. County Administrator Bill Van Vactor, County Counsel Teresa Wilson, Senior Budget Analyst David Garnick and Recording Secretary Melissa Zimmer were also present.
Greta Utecht, Management Services, reported that on October 12, 2004, the Elected Officials Compensation Board met to review the salaries of Lane County’s elective officials. As the result of the conclusion of four of the six bargaining unit contracts being negotiated, employees in the County received a two percent cost of living adjustment, and those bargaining units that have made substantive changes in their health insurance coverage also received a deferred compensation contribution. She said the County is heading into mediation with its largest bargaining unit and until that happened, they decided to review the elected officials’ compensation, giving elected officials in the County who are considered unclassified non-represented employees the compensation for the non-represented employees.
Utecht indicated the Elected Officials Compensation Board recommended that all of the elected officials (except the Board of County Commissioners) receive a two percent COLA, retroactive to July 1, 2004. She said the County Commissioners had received the two percent COLA effective July 1, 2004 because of the last board order affecting their salary. She added that they also recommended that the Elected Officials Compensation Board also recommended that elected officials receive a contribution of one percent deferred compensation contribution retroactive to July 1, 2004 for all of the elected officials except for the Board of County Commissioners. She stated the Board of County Commissioners should be receiving the contribution effective January 1, 2005. She explained the difference in the date is because the charter sets forth that the Commissioners could not receive an increase in their compensation until January 1, after a general election. She added they also recommended that from now on, all of the elected officials’ insurance packages be linked with non-represented employees so they are not going back and forth with the benefit packages.
Sorenson noted in the past when the Elected Officials Compensation Board made its recommendations, they made a comparison to what other elected officials in the state are receiving, to sort out the relationship between the different types of compensation that other counties look at. He asked if they did that in this case.
Utecht indicated that it had been a long time since major changes had taken place with the commissioners’ salaries and they thought it was appropriate to look at other elected officials in other counties. She noted in the course of that discussion, there was discussion about the fact that Lane County’s tax rate is so much lower than other counties and comparable jurisdictions. She added that at this point in time, given there were no COLA’s last year, they wanted to hold steady and make sure that elected officials stayed on par within the organization. She stated that, should things shift significantly next year, they might want to look at other organizations. She said Lane Manual states they are to look at salaries and budgets of other department directors, and they did look at other information.
Sorenson thought all of the elected officials that would benefit from this should be there for a vote on whether their salaries are raised or not. He thought to know what other elected officials from other counties make would be influential on his vote. He wanted direction from the Board of Directors or the Budget Committee to the Elected Officials Compensation Board to tell them that they want the basics of what is going on with elected officials compensation in the state. He said he didn’t favor this.
Utecht explained the elected officials compensation is not linked with any of the bargaining unit outcomes. She said the reason for addressing the Elected Official Compensation Board at this time was because the majority of the employees in the organization had received a COLA and the Elected Officials Compensation Board thought it was appropriate and necessary to make sure the elected officials stay on a par with the non-represented work group in the County so they don’t have problems with the internal equity system.
Dwyer asked if the other elected officials should be entitled to the increase the charter mandates or requires they give to themselves.
Holser wanted comparable data, as they need to know that other counties raised their pay more than Lane County. She thought they should have another meeting to discuss the data.
Utecht indicated over the past three years they have done salary surveys and they have to do more to make sure they could hire people into positions. She stated the State of Oregon had not received a pay increase. She explained that compared with all other counties and smaller city jurisdictions, Lane County’s salaries overall are falling faster in comparison. She indicated that 99% of Marion County is paid more than Lane County. She said that Lane County’s elected officials would come in at the bottom.
Holser commented that even if they support the recommendations they have to defend their decision with the raises and compensation.
Sorenson indicated that the Lane Manual states that the Compensation Board shall consider the compensation to pay persons comparably employed in the State of Oregon, local public bodies and private businesses within a labor market deemed appropriate by the Compensation Board. He added that none of that information was provided in the report. He said the Board requires (as stated in the Lane Manual) that the Compensation Board provide a compensation schedule for the elected officials. He said he never saw one. He said he wanted to have the information before he voted on his own salary increase. He thought the commissioners who vote on the salary increase should be present for the vote. He wanted them on the telephone.
Utecht said in terms of getting information from private companies, it was almost impossible, as that information is not available from private companies in sharing private salary information. She added there are no comparable positions at the state level. She said state positions had never been used in the comparisons. She recommended they look at the Lane Manual section, as it isn’t appropriate to ask the Compensation Board to look at state positions that are comparable when there are none. She explained that Compensation Board members are knowledgeable in compensation.
Sorenson asked what the recommendation was of the Elected Officials Compensation Board last year that was not acted upon by the Budget Committee.
Utecht responded that they did not meet one year ago because there were no changes in the compensation structure for anyone in the County.
Sorenson stated they are required by Lane Manual to meet annually. He said having no meeting last year means there is nothing to compare to except what they did two years ago. He said they need to meet annually.
MOTION: to approve the recommendation from the Elected Officials Compensation Board dated October12, 2004 in the matter of adjusting the salaries and benefits of elected officials.
Dwyer MOVED, Sorenson SECONDED.
Dwyer commented that people don’t understand that the non-represented employees get comp time and accrue vacation benefits they can buy when they retire. He said they get overtime. He thought this was done in good faith to save the County money because they agreed to go with the benefits of the non-represented, which lowers their costs to the County substantially because it increased their co-pays.
Holser thought the Board of Commissioners should direct that the Elected Officials Compensation Board meet next year.
Johnson requested that all of the concerns that were on the table be given to the Board for tomorrow’s meeting.
VOTE: 6-1 (Sorenson dissenting).
There being no further business, Chair Crowell adjourned the meeting at 12:50 p.m.