Atherton town employees get pay hikes, make concessions


With retroactive pay in the cards for them, most non-safety employees in Atherton will be returned to a perch on the pay scale that ensures that their paychecks will be higher than average when compared with those of employees of comparable towns in the area.

The City Council on Nov. 17 unanimously approved a labor contract for represented miscellaneous, non-police and non-management employees, and a resolution for management staff, which is not represented, giving both groups a boost in salary but requiring them to pay more of their medical benefit costs. The employees had been working without a contract since July 2009.

The two-year agreements for both groups cover the 2009-10 and 2010-11 fiscal years. They provide no increase for the first year, and a small increase for the current year, retroactive to July.

For both groups, the agreement will boost their pay to a level representing the 70th percentile of the pay range for comparable positions in other specified towns.

The agreements cover all but non-management police officers, and three employees who are in the "confidential" category. An agreement with the confidential employees will come before the council at its December meeting. The police officers have a contract that expires June 30, 2013.

The council has been struggling to rein in employee costs, which represent nearly 80 percent of the town's budget. The agreements make some headway in this area, requiring management staff to pay 3 percent of their medical coverage, beginning Jan. 1. The town now pays 100 percent of that cost.

The non-management employees, represented by the Teamsters Union, will begin paying 6 percent of their medical benefit costs, beginning Jan. 1 -- up slightly from the 5 percent they now pay.

New employees in both employee groups will be brought in on a new retirement vesting formula that will shrink the town's portion of costs for post-employment medical benefits, and eliminate coverage for retired employees' dependents, according to Louise Ho, the town's finance director.

Ms. Ho said she is working on a calculation of the town's savings on retirement costs under the new vesting schedule.

Under the new agreements approved last week, current non-management employees will receive an average 2.4 percent increase. The estimated cost of the increase is $52,000 for this fiscal year if all positions are filled.

Management staff would average a 5.4 percent increase. If all positions were filled, the estimated cost of the increase would be $72,000 this fiscal year. But the town is likely to realize some savings with the vacancies in some key positions: The assistant city manager left her post in October, and the building official resigned effective mid-September.

Because the newly approved agreements expire next June, more employee cost-cutting is likely, beginning in the 2011-12 fiscal year, as the council comes under increasing pressure to tackle a $1 million structural deficit.

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Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Nov 26, 2010 at 1:48 pm

This is a tragic mistake by the Town Council. There is NO justification for our Town employees being paid at the 70th percentile of other local agencies - particularly when, as a group, they are already being paid more than their private sector equivalents.

And why did the Council do this without first making the proposed agreement available to the public for comment?

Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Nov 26, 2010 at 2:01 pm

The citizens of Atherton should demand that the Town adopt the same policy as has the Fire District which requires that any proposed labor agreement be made available to the public for at least 15 days before the Council can vote on that agreement:


WHEREAS, in accordance with the policy of promoting prompt public access to government records, the California Public Records Act broadly defines public records (Gov. Code Section 6252, subdivision (3)) and the exceptions to disclosing public records under the California Public Records Act are narrow; and

WHEREAS, the Ralph M. Brown Act, Government Code Sections 54950 through 54963, enacted into law in 1953, requires open meetings of local agencies “to curb misuse of the democratic process by secret legislation of public bodies”; and

WHEREAS, the Ralph M. Brown Act “…reflects a legislative determination that ‘public agencies in this State exist to aid in the conduct of the people’s business,’ and an intent ‘that their actions be taken openly and that their deliberations be conducted openly’ (Gov. Code Section 54950); and

WHEREAS, the Ralph M. Brown Act and the California Public Records Act require the District to conduct its business in a transparent manner; and

WHEREAS, the Board, as duly elected representatives of the citizens within the District, in conformance with the Ralph M. Brown Act and the California Public Records Act, is committed to providing the District’s citizens with information considered by the Board in making its decisions; and

WHEREAS, the Board believes due to the importance of proposed collective bargaining agreements with the District employee labor representatives, that these proposed agreements should be made available to the citizens of the District in sufficient time prior to the Board’s adoption of the proposed agreements so as to allow for adequate review and comment by the public prior to final Board action.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Board of Directors of the Menlo Park Fire Protection District does hereby move that any proposed collectively bargained labor agreement between the District and designated District employee representatives shall be made publicly available at least fifteen (15) calendar days before the meeting at which the agreement will be acted on by the Board.

Like this comment
Posted by POGO
a resident of Woodside: other
on Nov 26, 2010 at 9:04 pm

I think this just shows you why things like Measure L are necessary.

Our elected officials just don't get it.

A shame.

Like this comment
Posted by William B
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Nov 27, 2010 at 3:46 am

You Know what, it just doesn't make sense, I grew up in the town, and was proud. Now, I question what the officials decide.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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