Oct 9 2012

OPINION: Unsustainable Compensation and Benefits are Key

Resident urges focus on key issues-

Measure Y has attracted widespread attention, as well as yet more divisiveness in our City.

I do not believe that the most important issue is either the amount or history of the parcel tax.  Rather, the real issues are:

  • What, if any, so-called essential services would be adversely impacted if Measure Y were defeated, and
  • How has it come to pass that both the MTRC and BAC have opined that the current compensation and benefit levels for employees , even after the recent negotiations, are unsustainable and out of control

So, the City Administrator and Mayor, among others, assert that these services, including police, fire and EMT, would be imperiled, in whole or in part. The safety of citizens and a reduction in EMT response times are often cited. If so, surely, the City has considered and planned on exactly what services would suffer and to what extent. Isn’t that part of a prudent financial process, i.e., to anticipate the financial risks to the delivery of essential services? But it hasn’t been done! I have seen no such analysis, detailed or otherwise, just rhetoric. Have you? From everything I have heard and read, for example, there would be absolutely no need for any such reduction in these services, especially EMT responses.  On what basis would you believe otherwise?

Now, please consider the compensation levels of our valuable employees, including an average level of salary and benefits equal to $160,000. You might find it interesting to go to the Public Employee Salaries in 2011 website, as reported in the San Jose Mercury News (www.mercurynews.com/salaries/bay-area/2011). Also, look at the related pension information. The results for Piedmont are listed and likely greatly exceed levels and durations of benefits available to many Piedmont residents, especially those on fixed incomes.  Now, if you were an employee or owner of a company, or member of a household in charge of the family budget, how would you assess the financial performance of whoever was in charge?  I understand that municipal finances are different. But, Piedmont has an unfunded liability of (are you ready) $40,000,000 and an admitted unsustainable and out-of-control compensation and benefit position. Is this how the City’s finances should be conducted? Please, just think about it before endorsing, much less voting for, a position which encourages current financial practices. Spend a few minutes and visit www.NoOnMeasureY.com. You may even agree.

Aaron Salloway, Piedmont Resident

Editors’ Note:  The opinions expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of the Piedmont Civic Association.  The Piedmont Civic Association does not support nor oppose candidates or ballot measures.

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