Wednesday, November 18, 2009

County Employees at Risk

The awful condition of the state budget has attracted a lot of attention in recent months. But the county budgets are not doing much better. And one constituency is going to pay the price as much or more than anyone: county employees.

Below are the salary increases granted by counties to general government employees and teachers for Fiscal Year 2009, which ended on 6/30/09:

Twenty of the twenty-four jurisdictions granted both cost of living adjustments (COLAs) and step increases to general employees, which are hikes for employees advancing within their grades. Teachers received COLAs from twenty-two jurisdictions and steps from twenty-one jurisdictions. The mean COLA increase was 2.63% for general employees and 3.42% for teachers.

Now here are the salary increases granted by counties for Fiscal Year 2010, which ends on 6/30/10:

Only six jurisdictions granted COLAs and eight granted step increases to general government employees. Ten granted COLAs and fourteen granted step increases to teachers. The mean COLA increase was 0.48% for general employees and 0.65% for teachers.

In addition, ten counties are planning furloughs and twelve counties are planning layoffs in FY 2010.

Here’s a question: what happens if the responsibility for funding teacher pensions is passed down from the state to the counties? And what happens when federal stimulus aid dries up? The answer is inevitably salary reductions, layoffs, furloughs or some combination thereof.