For the fourth consecutive year, Washoe County employees have voluntarily agreed to wage and benefit concessions that will help the county address a $33.8 million deficit faced in the 2011-12 fiscal year beginning July 1st.
The agreements reached thus far with seven of nine employee associations, which represent both line staff and supervisory county employees, are interim agreements that continue the concessions made by those associations for fiscal year 2010-11 until current negotiations are completed for fiscal year 2011-12.
“With the start of the new fiscal year right around the corner, both management and the employee associations felt it was important to offer some level of concessions effective July 1st,” Human Resources Director Katey Fox explained.
The current negotiations are aimed at developing final agreements for the next fiscal year whereby all associations contribute their proportionate share of the targeted $11.6 million in on-going wage and benefit concessions. This target amount represents more than $2 million already achieved in savings due to the outstanding efforts of the employees’ Health Insurance Negotiating Committee, which restructured the benefit plan.
“Labor costs are the majority of any government’s expenditures since we’re in the service business,” Fox added. “Our employees have in the past and continue today, to recognize the changing economic conditions of the region. They have demonstrated, via these concessions, their willingness to assist in saving jobs and lessening the service reduction impacts on our citizens that would be necessary if layoffs were to occur.”
The $11.6 million employee concession target would mean approximately an overall 7% reduction for employees which could be achieved through a combination of reductions in current wages and/or benefit reductions such as employees paying more toward their health care costs. Both of these have been done in the past, as well as no cost-of-living increases since the 2007-08 fiscal year.
The associations that have agreed to extend the average 3.4% 2010-11 wage and benefit concessions into the next fiscal year until a new agreement can be reached are the supervisory and line employee associations which include the Washoe County Employee Association (the largest representing 1,549 employees), the Washoe County Nurses’ Association (representing 29 employees), the Washoe County Public Attorney’s Association (representing 78 employees), and the Washoe County District Attorney Investigators Association (representing 11 employees). Washoe County has seen a reduction of its workforce by nearly 20% over the past several years, and has 2,658 employees at this time
Earlier this month, the Washoe County Commission approved an ongoing wage and benefit concession package totaling approximately 7% for 2011-12 for management-level staff including the County Manager, the Assistant County Managers, appointed Department Heads and non-represented Division Managers. Those concessions are expected to save $222,466 during the coming fiscal year, and into the future. County Commissioners approved ongoing wage and benefit reductions for themselves at their meeting yesterday (June 28th) to achieve their proportionate target labor cost savings of $27,935. Both groups have taken concessions since 2008 along with employees.
Washoe County’s general fund budget of $311,900,000 is 21% less than just four years ago as a result of continuous declines in property tax and sales tax revenues which comprise nearly 80% of the county’s general fund budget.