Friday, August 28, 2009

Government Salary Freeze

As the country struggles with the "Great Recession" private sector employees continue to get at best the same salary year over year.  Many more private sector employees have taken pay cuts or worse yet, lost their job.

Which brings us to Nevada.  The July unemployment rate in Las Vegas was 13.1%.  If ever there was a city, county, and state where people are suffering economically, it is Las Vegas, Clark county, and Nevada.  Lets take a look to see if government employees are enduring the same hardships.

The firefighters gave up a cost-of-living increase in the current budget year, but other city unions only agreed to a reduction in that increase. The COLA savings is about $1.5 million.

The new firefighters contract also obligates the city to pay more toward employees’ retirement contributions and health care costs, which leads to an increase of $1.75 million.

In the 2009 budget, firefighter personnel costs were $102.7 million. In 2010, those costs will be $107.2 million, according to a city presentation, an increase of 4.4 percent.

Without the changes in the new contract, those costs would be about 5.3 percent higher, or $108.1 million, according to the presentation.

According to the article the firefighters did give up their cost of living increase in exchange for an even larger payment to their retirement fund.  In short, in a city with declining population that is being ravaged by a recession personnel costs still increased 4.4%.

Next time you hear about cuts to the departments are cuts to services, just remember a true salary freeze would protect 4.4% of all services.

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