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Sheriff’s association votes ‘no’ on county contract

Board scheduled to decide whether to impose terms on Tuesday
By: Jenifer Gee Journal Staff Writer
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The Placer Deputy Sheriff’s Association “nearly unanimously” voted down a proposed contract from the county. On Tuesday, county CEO Tom Miller said he plans to recommend that supervisors impose a contract on the association’s approximately 230 members for the remainder of the fiscal year. Association representatives told the Journal this week that they recommended a 30-day mediation session. Miller said the county has entered into mediation once before and needs a contract now since it’s already about two months into the current fiscal year. Association’s ‘heartburn’ Josh Tindall, association president, said his members “have gone above and beyond in our efforts to cooperate.” The association agreed to take cuts that would meet the 5 percent losses other county employees sustained when agreeing to take mandatory time off. Because many deputies cannot take mandatory time off, Tindall said they offered to pay 5 percent toward their retirement and other benefits to make it equal. Tindall added that when furlough day requirements ended, county management and other county employees would be able to collect their previous salaries. He stressed that members are aware of difficult economic conditions and are more than willing to contribute their part. “The main concern my membership had was our increased contribution would not go away,” Tindall said. “As the economy gets better and the county budget gets better, we would still be asked to take the full burden of assisting with the budget.” Tindall said that caused most of the “heartburn” with association members. He added that members were willing to take the same medical plan as county management and other employees. However, county officials “want us to go to something above and beyond other groups,” Tindall said. Tindall said it was telling when 80 percent of members returned votes. While he declined to specify the vote-split, he said that members “nearly unanimously rejected” the county’s tentative contract. He said the imposed contract, if approved, could reduce members’ salaries by more than $500 a month. “In addition to the reductions, we’ve already agreed to or proposed, we would like to see the board step up and take an in-depth objective look at staff’s actions and recommendations, as well as find ways to cut waste and inefficient and increase accountability,” Tindall said in a prepared statement. County’s ‘last, best and final offer’ Miller said on Tuesday county staff plans to present a “last, best and final offer” to the Board of Supervisors and recommend that the board vote to impose that offer. If the board approves the offer, that contract will be in effect until the end of the fiscal year in July 2010 and negotiations can continue. Overall, Miller estimates the imposed contract, if passed, will save the county about $750,000 for the remainder of the fiscal year. The terms of the potential contract include asking association members to “pick up” 20 percent of their healthcare costs, Miller said. They are also asked to contribute 2.5 percent to their retirement fund and another 2.5 percent to their wellness incentive. Miller said currently the county pays about $30,000 a year toward the retirement for the average association employee. The last, best and final offer asks employees to pay about $2,000 a year of that $30,000, Miller explained. In terms of healthcare, Miller said the county pays about $14,000 a year for the average association employee. The offer requires employees to pay about $2,800 a year of that cost, Miller said. He added that members still receive a mandatory pay increase in February as part of Measure F, which was passed by voters in 1977. Last year, deputies received raises ranging up to 6.33 percent, according to a Measure F salary survey for Placer County. Miller said he believes supervisors “have been looking and they’ve been doing” in terms of making about $35 million cuts over the past 12 months from all aspects of the county budget. “It’s never easy to do these things in terms of imposing and I can appreciate the angst on the DSA side,” Miller said. “We are in difficult financial straits and we need to move forward and make adjustments.” Jenifer Gee can be reached at jeniferg@goldcountrymedia.com.