Deja vu all over again!
Mar 19, 2014 | 1438 views | 0 0 comments | 115 115 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Tuesday evening, March 18, the City Council was presented with proposed Ordinance #766, which would have increased their cost of stipend and benefits by more than 1,000 percent—yes, more than tenfold. I say by more than 1,000 percent because no estimated fiscal impact was provided; it would be “difficult to provide.” But on Jan. 17, 2012, this same proposal was made to the City Council with a “rough” cost of analysis of between $80,000 and $100,000, which represented an increase between 600 and 750 percent. This included less of a stipend than the current proposal, and did not include a city phone or monthly phone allowance.

City staff can provide an estimated fiscal impact of providing benefits, and do so at least yearly, so that the costs can be approximated during salary and benefits negotiations with city employees.

Health Care costs have risen 15 percent or more for the last two years. This alone would put the projected fiscal impact between $105,000 (a 795 percent increase) and $132,000 (a 1,000 percent increase). Not long ago the salary and benefits of a job posting was discussed during a City Council Meeting; A requirement for a High School Diploma with a salary of about $30,000 and benefits package greater than $30,000.

The proposed ordinance would provide benefits similar to those provided to the Management/Mid-Management group of city employees. While I do not know the cost of these benefits and the ordinance does not provide an estimate, I firmly believe they would be equal to or greater than those provided to an employee that only requires a High School Diploma. If the additional costs are $30,000, on average, for the 5 council members, then the projected fiscal impact would be at least $150,000, or an increase of 1,136 percent.

Now this is not about the City’s benefit package, the employees bargained for these benefits.

This is not about any current, or future Council member having a need for Health Benefits. The Affordable Care Act, via Covered CA, provides health care benefits and subsidies if applicable, and will help enroll qualified persons into Medicaid.

This is about wanting free health care and retirement benefits that the city employees have bargained for; wanting, not needing.

The Ordinance stated that retirement benefits would not be included, but it was a requirement two years ago, and still is a requirement—it must be offered. Only after mentioning this requirement from two years ago was the new fact presented that the individual Council Members may opt out, if they desire. Being offered retirement benefits with the option of opting out is not the same as “The types of benefits provided are also limited to provide medical, dental, and vision, but not life insurance or pension benefits,” as presented in the ordinance. No mention of whether life insurance is yet another benefit that must be offered, but has an option to opt out.

I agree that the Council’s stipend is due for an increase and that the Council should be offered a City phone or monthly phone allowance. The exact amount of the stipend increase, I leave up to the council. They know how much monthly expense they incur as Council Members. I agree with Council Member Novelli – Our Council is not a “Strong Mayor” Council – each member is equal and the title is mostly symbolic. However if the Mayor experiences more costs because of this symbolic nature and duties, then the Mayor should receive a greater stipend than the rest of the Council.

Thank You,

Mel Clemmer,

Patterson resident

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