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You Said It: Budget, Salaries and Benefits for City Workers, Council Members

Amid budget difficulties, opinions abound about pay, benefits for everyone associated with Pinole City Hall.

The current fiscal condition of Pinole city government lately has become a lightning rod for public opinion. In public meetings, in casual talk on the street and in the Pinole Patch comment stream, points of view alternatively collide, comingle or congeal into debating points.

As a point of illustration, this recent remark appeared in our comment stream from reader Chris Wimmer:

"Where are the salary cuts for the city manager and asst city manager? Cut their salaries in half. Save two WORKERS who we as taxpayers SEE everyday. Fire and police. Sorry folks. You can't hide no more. Give it up. Have you no shame. Let workers go and continue to collect big salaries?"

A seemingly perfect storm is forming, with the pending expiration of the utility users tax, stalled negotiations with public safety unions and the looming November city council election for two of the five seats.

We'd like to move this conversation forward. First, we'd like to add some context:

  • In May 2011, the city manager, assistant city manager and city clerk cut in compensation.
  • Last July, city and firefighter negotiations failed, leading to the council's on firefighters.
  • Last July the council for police seargants, officers and dispatchers after negotiations stalled.
  • In March 2011, student and Economic Development and Housing Advisory Committee member that city council members should take pay cuts or surrender city-paid health benefits as a gesture of self sacrifice.
  • At Tuesday's city council budget workshop Councilman Phil Green raised the idea of reducing the number of council members from five to three as a cost-cutting measure.
  • Also at Tuesday's meeting Councilwoman Debbie Long suggested possibly shifting some city department heads to 36-hour work weeks.

This is not the entire representation of the ideas floating around, but they are among the primary ones that seem to be on the minds of elected officials and the public at large.

Some people say that the only plausible way out of the situation is to make deep cuts, all around, to employee salaries and pensions, including police and fire personnel. We've also heard that employees should be fired, then re-hired at lower compensation levels so that Pinole can remain an independent, "full-service" city. Still others say that city hall already has cut not only to the bone, but to the marrow.

What do you  think? Post your comments below.

SalthePlumber June 04, 2012 at 02:10 AM
This is a discussion Forum. If nobody responded to your inane comments, you'd be put out about that too... "If you cant stand the heat, get out of the Kitchen". Ever hear that one? BTW, the Comments here are pretty tame...
CW June 04, 2012 at 04:06 AM
I wonder how a resident... any resident.. on either side of the position.... will react when they have a medical emergency in their home.. needing assistance ASAP... and the ONE piece of apparatus is on the freeway servicing the needs of an auto accident... How will that feel..... I for one do NOT want to find out...
Bobby June 04, 2012 at 05:13 AM
Great reply John, just another fact, Pinole cops are paying 12.5%, since the city swindled an extra 3.5% they are supposed to pay, and forced it onto the common cop and firefighter, the majority of cities around Pinole are paying 9%, not 12.5%, just another fact for everyone complaining.
Raul Ramero June 04, 2012 at 05:54 AM
@ x You state “Pinole's median income is about $73,500. The top 40 employees make double that. Something is wrong”. You need to take a look at the salary schedule on the city website. You will find your numbers are skewed. You must be looking at total compensation including benefits, overtime etc. for most of these 40 employees. Looking at these 40 listed most are Police and Fire. So I took the bottom step Police Officer/Firefighter and top step Police Sergeant/Fire Captain found the median and hear are those results: http://www.ci.pinole.ca.us/personnel/docs/pinole_salary_schedule.pdf Police Officer =$5,846/mo or $70,152/year before taxes Firefighter= $5,199/mo or $62,388/year before taxes Police Sergeant = $8,323/mo or $99,876/year before taxes Fire Captain = $8,028/mo or $96,336/year before taxes The rough averages, not rank by rank are: Police =$7,084.50/mo or $85,014/year before taxes Fire = $6,613.50/mo or $79,362/year before taxes This is not even close to double!
Redrock June 05, 2012 at 01:11 AM
@Dick This is what happens when "Approximately $35 billion is pumped into the state's economy by pension investment -- $7 of economic payback for every $1 of investment." YOUR WORDS... not mine. When the economy tanks and the money isn't there, then we raise taxes to fill the guaranteed pensions. Just Like Poilce and Fire.. Measure K and the like is another sham to shelter life long city and state funded pensions at the expense of the taxpayer! Get a clue everyone! How much more are you willing to pay.. without some sort of reform? "... 100% of the tax increases earmarked for education will go not towards school improvements, teacher salaries, or academic materials, but to cover the shortfalls in the California State Teachers’ Retirement System. According to Bloomberg, all that money will be used for teacher pensions and there are signs that if voters found out about it, they might be less likely to vote to pass the measure come November..." The full article: http://www.educationnews.org/education-policy-and-politics/ca-voters-face-tough-choice-tax-increases-or-ed-cuts/

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