One hundred Davis City Employee’s Association (DCEA) members filled the Community Chambers at last Tuesday’s City Council meeting to address City Council’s approval of city employee contract adjustments.
The first measure is an amendment to the city manager’s employment agreement to allow for a decrease in income. Davis City Manager Bill Emlen initiated the amendment.
In addition, the measure authorizes the same adjustments to Mayor Ruth Asmundson’s contact.
Emlen, whose contract is due to expire in 2012, received applause from Davis councilmembers for volunteering the amendment, which will result in $15,000 savings for the city.
“The reason why I’m going to support this has more to do with the fact that Bill’s salary is quite modest compared to other city managers,” said Councilmember Sue Greenwald. “I very much appreciate the structural change, the fact that Bill is taking charge and setting an example.”
Before the amendment, Emlen’s contract was valued at $237,372, with approximately $159,000 in salary. The amendment reduces his compensation by a total of 6 percent.
In addition, medical benefits will be capped at the 2010 rates and a limit of $500 a month will be placed on the cafeteria cash out provision. Cafeteria cash out is a plan given to city employees whose health plan is covered by a spouse. Because they do not use their city benefits, they are compensated with cash.
The Council also approved two-year contracts for the police chief, assistant city manager, community development director and community services director. The change will save 1.2 percent total compensation for the next fiscal year.
“I appreciate Chief [Landy] Black deciding to stay with us because he has been a tremendous help to the city,” Asmundson said.
Councilmember Lamar Heystek said he hopes Black enjoys the rest of his career with the city of Davis.
“I think the issue with the police chief is that he has provided a value to the community that’s been by all accounts quantifiable,” he said. “Chief Black has enhanced the community’s trust in law enforcement. I am pleased – although he gave us quite a scare – I hope he does continue with us and accepts this agreement. I hope that we can take a look at how we can reward financial savings by extending someone’s service.”
The multi-year agreements will end June 30, 2012.
Councilmembers tried to decrease the reliance on uniform salary ranges for department heads. The changes reflect the differences in positions, according to the staff report. All contracts will reduce the cafeteria cash out benefit to a minimum of $500 a month, which is 31 percent of the current benefit.
The majority of the audience attended to address the decision on city employee contracts. The offer requires the 115 members of the labor union, which represents 115 employees, to take 12 furlough days by Nov. 1.
The Council plans to adopt final budget changes in June. Terms of the “last, best and final” offer to the DCEA are in effect until a new agreement is reached.
The city expects budgetary all-funds savings of $507,000 and general Fund savings of $203,000 in salary and benefit reductions this year.
Negotiations will continue for the new fiscal year.
The agreement with DCEA expired last June, after which the city was required to negotiate new terms until an “impasse” is reached.
Negotiations continued for almost a year until they hit a standstill in December when no progress was being made toward an agreement. At this point, the city gave its “last, best and final offer.”
The impasse requires fact-finding meetings with an arbitrator as a last step, but DCEA did not decide on a date. Therefore, the city is able to impose its final offer, said City Attorney Harriet Steiner.
“We have a significant disagreement about even what this nonbinding fact-finding arbitration is supposed to achieve, what the process is,” Steiner said. “While your bargaining rules call for going through this process, this process is unavailing … It was time to bring this back to the City Council.”
The city staff’s recommendation was to impose the rules to apply to DCEA because the process was unavailing, she said. Bargaining would start again for the next fiscal year, either on a single or multi-year contract.
Ken Aikens, whose firm has represented DCEA over the last 12 years, had a different take on the process during negotiations. The City Council was not responsive, he said.
Several employees addressed the Council.
One worker, a mechanic for the city for past two years, said he knew he would be taking a substantial pay cut when he took the job.
“We are all here tonight to show you our faces and to let you meet the people who keep the water flowing, the streets and bike paths in good condition, our parks and greenbelts looking their best, traffic signals and street lights lit and emergency vehicles on the road,” he said. “Now imagine us all gone for 12 days in June. Nobody here is saying furloughs are not needed, but to force us to take all 12 in one month will cause us severe financial strain for our families.”
The city of Davis has already cut $3.5 million from its General Fund for this year and is discussing cutting approximately $2 million for the fiscal year of 2010-2011.
POOJA KUMAR and BECKY PETERSON can be reached at email@example.com.