Problem acknowledged, but council still passes motion

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By Jennifer Garcia

County councilors worked well into the night Tuesday during the work session held in the White Rock Town Hall. The meeting adjourned close to 11:30 p.m., with one of the last items of discussion being the FY2010 Salary Plan.

Following a motion made by Council Vice Chair Mike Wismer, which was seconded by Councilor Vincent Chiravalle, council voted 6-1 to approve a salary plan that would give some staffers a 3 percent bonus. Robert Gibson voted against it.

Though the first half of the meeting was dedicated to discussion of the LACDC’s strategic plan and update of annual activities, there were also two other items listed on the business agenda that were discussed.

In addition, two items from the consent agenda regarding parking easement and utility easement were pulled and placed on the business agenda for discussion.

Assistant County Administrator Diana Stepan and council discussed the FY2010 Salary Plan.

According to county documents, the FY2010 Salary Plan includes the revised and new job classifications that have been approved throughout FY2009. The salary plan includes:

• Grades and ranges for all regular and limited-term positions excluding union and contact positions;

• Grades and ranges for temporary and casual positions;

• Progression for fire cadet, firefighter I and firefighter II positions (new hires only);

• Guidelines for new hires and promotions; and

• Guidelines for annual increases for all classifications.

The cost to implement the FY2010 Salary Plan was included in the FY2010 annual budget, which was approved by County Council on May 12.

Implementation of the salary plan will require revisions to the payroll software system tables and annual pay changes will require system maintenance of employee master files.

Much of the discussion regarding the salary plan focused on the a recommendation to award a one-time lump sum payment to approximately 30 employees that are at or near the maximum of their salary range.

According to county documents, the department directors would identify the percentage of award, not to exceed 3 percent, for those employees with the lump sum being paid out in two payments; half in July and half in January. Further, if an employee terminates or received disciplinary action above an oral warning, the second payment would be canceled.

“Employees would get two lump sum payments in lieu of a raise, since they’ve reached their highest grade,” Stepan explained to council.

Gibson, however, was not supportive of the lump sum payments. “We seem to be putting a Band-Aid on the problem,” he said. “We have a process that’s possibly broken, but I can’t even tell if it’s broken.”

Stepan defended the decision, saying that due to market conditions, there has been no growth in the market. “If we have 60 people reaching the top next year, with no market growth, we need to reassess the process,” she said.

However, Council Chair Michael Wheeler concurred with Gibson’s comments. “We dropped the ball on this one. We should have had a salary plan analysis,” he said. “I’ll vote in favor of this because we’re stuck.”