On Friday evening Orange County CEO Tom Mauk sent out a memo, to all County workers, praising his executive managers for voluntarily reducing their salaries by 5 % for over the past 18 months. The intent of sending this message out after most employees had left for the weekend was so that the message would greet everyone first thing Monday morning, and in advance of the Governor’s budget announcement.Â
A Word of ThanksÂ
Iâ€™d like to take this opportunity to thank the Countyâ€™s executive managers and the elected officials who have had their salaries reduced by five percent over the last 18 months in response to the Countyâ€™s financial difficulties. By taking this five percent reduction, these managers have helped to offset the need for additional salary and benefit reductions elsewhere across the entire county; this benefited the County at a critical time. I am proud of the leadership they have demonstrated during this challenging period for the County.Â
As is typical with Mr. Mauk he leaves out information from his thank you note which if disclosed would have provided significant context,Â and contradicted his praise of his management team for their so-called sacrifice.Â
The executive managers that Mauk praised are entitled to the salary increases that managers represented by the Orange County Manager’s Association receive. At the same time his executive managers accepted a largely symbolic 5% salary reduction in June of 2009, they also accepted a 2% salary increase on October 9, 2009, and a 2.5% salary increase on October 8, 2010.
Not really much of a sacrifice when you consider their additional perks including not having to pay the employee portion of the costs of their county pension benefits.
Contrast their sacrifice with the real sacrifice that the non-management county workers have faced. These employees have faced significant layoffs, and no increase in their salaries since June of 2009. While facing no increase in salaries, these workers have faced increased contribution rates towards their pensions which when added to the rate of inflation have reduced their take home pay.Â
Orange County Employees Association General Manager Nick Berardino sent out a message to county workers on Sunday in response to Mauk’s announcement.
Several weeks ago, the Countyâ€™s executive team presented a five-year plan describing how the County was in desperate financial straits. The plan predicts a budget shortfall of $100 million over the next five years and orders all departments to cut 5 percent from their budgets, which will result in even deeper cuts in services to the public. Little did anyone know that while the CEO and his executive staff were calling for major cuts, they were preparing to line their own pockets by adding a five percent pay increase to their own paychecks. The increase reverses a five percent pay cut that executives agreed to 18 months ago as departments across the County were cutting budgets, laying off employees and instituting furloughs. The restoration of executive pay must signal that the budget crisis the CEO presented to the Board is over. Maybe the rest of the State just didnâ€™t get the memo.
If adding 5 percent to your pay during this crisis is the County’s best demonstration of leadership, the citizens of this County are facing disaster. It is especially unconscionable considering that these executives also enjoy massive car allowances and taxpayer-funded 401K accounts, and they force taxpayers to pay their “employee” contributions for their retirement plans. It is obvious that the CEO and executives are either completely out of touch with reality or do not care that this reversal will surely add to the number of employees who could be laid off or endure even deeper cuts to their compensation. Either way, this is just another example of how when it comes to leadership, Orange County is demonstrating a philosophy on par with the City of Bell.
This past weekend the Voice of OC and the Orange County Register reported on the increase in pay that executive managers will enjoy during these constrictive budgetary times for our state and local governments.
So I’ve got a question for CEO Mauk. Where is your thank you note to the more than 14,000 county workers who have taken real pay reductions over the past 18 months?