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Foothills workers should share burden
Foothills Park and Recreation District’s 2011 budget proposal is seeking a $225,000 increase in compensation for employees at the same time that is it planning cuts of $150,000 from the previous year’s expenditures. How does this make sense?
The district reports that about $169,000 will go toward raises of about 2.2 percent. According to the district, another $56,000 in compensation will be used to help cover health insurance increases and other expenses. Several members of the district’s management team already earn upwards of $100,000 in compensation and benefits. After the district gives these individuals and other full time employees a 2.2 percent raise, increases the contribution to their health care plans, and posts a match to their 401k plans, how much will be left to compensate the remaining employees — many of whom earn about $10 per hour without health care or other benefits?
The district conducted a salary benchmarking study in 2007-2008 and again in 2009. Employees who were found to be severely underpaid in their positions received salary increases after both studies. In December 2009 most employees received an efficiency savings bonus. Then, in January 2010 most employees received a 2 percent salary increase. Over the past three years, how many households have received benchmarking increases, salary/benefit increases of any amount, year-end bonuses, or increased employer contributions to a health care package that is already better than most?
District board members are concerned that talented staff will seek employment elsewhere if this plan is not funded. This concern should not hold hostage the Board, its taxpayers, or others who pay admissions and fees. The country is in a recession. Salary and benefit packages that are available to district full time staff are not commonly found in this economy. Any employees who feel they can better themselves financially elsewhere should be encouraged to do so. The reality is many workplaces have been experiencing salary freezes, increased health care costs, furlough days, or layoffs.
Revenues in the district are down. Does that mean district taxpayers should reward the managers of this District with salary increases? I don’t think so. If users of the district’s programs and services can no longer justify playing golf, buying annual passes to the recreation centers, or enrolling in programs and activities, why should they be asked to accept an increase to the salary and benefits of the district?
Kathy Meacham