Dear Brothers and Sisters of Local 2068:
At today’s Board of Supervisors (BOS) meeting, County Executive, Ed Long, presented his proposed Fiscal Year (FY) 2016 County Budget. While the county executive presented the FY2016 proposed budget, he also added in his presentation what his “plan” is for the FY2017. The BOS will only be addressing the proposed FY2016 budget with an adoption date of April 28, 2015.
The county executive includes a 0.84% Cost of Living Allowance (COLA) or Market Rate Adjustment for all county employees. The 0.84% COLA is half of the approved calculation of 1.68%. Additionally, CE Long DID INCLUDE in his proposed FY2016 County Budget Presentation funding for both merit increments and longevity steps for all Public Safety (Fire, DPSC, Sheriff, and Police). This is great that steps and longevities are being proposed. Remember, today’s presentation for the FY2016 budget is a proposal – nothing is final until the Board of Supervisors adopts the budget on April 28, 2015.
With respect to County Executive Long’s proposed FY2016 Budget, here’s a summary of his presentation - (Here’s what impacts YOU):
· 0.84 % COLA for all county employees (9.46M) – an additional 9.46M is required to increase to 1.68%. In addition to the 0.84% COLA, eligible Public Safety Personnel would receive their merit or longevity step (8.13M).
· 1.26M to fund the 31 SAFER Positions when federal grants expire. 8 of the 14 ladder trucks will continue to have 4-person staffing.
· 3.76M to fund Health Insurance and Other Benefits – this includes an assumption of 10% health insurance premium increases in January 2016.
· The FY 2016 Proposed Budget includes a 8.57M increase for fiduciary requirements associated with the county’s retirement systems and as a modest investment to strengthen our funding ratios. The additional money increases amortization of unfunded liability from 93% to 95%. If you recall, the corridor for our retirement systems is 90 to 120%. The county’s 3 pension systems have combined funding ratio of 81.4%.
An area of significance is County Executive Long proposed leaving the Real Estate Tax Rate at $1.09 per $100 assessed value. With the real estate tax rate at $1.09 and home values have increased, the average homeowner will pay an additional $184.81 in taxes effective FY2016. One penny increase or decrease equates to approximately $22M of revenue. The Board of Supervisors will vote on the FY2016 tax rate at their meeting on Tuesday, March 3, 2015.
Brothers and Sisters, your union will be meeting with all of the Board of Supervisors prior to the FY2016 Budget being adopted on April 28, 2015. The priority when we meet with the Board of Supervisors will be supporting a 1.68% COLA, removing the 2 year hold for Step 8 and eliminating the 15% Social Security Disability Off-Set to those members who retired from a Service-Connected Disability.
Lastly, while the proposed FY2016 has been presented to the Board of Supervisors, the county citizens, and county employees; as information becomes available relating to the FY2016 budget, the membership will be informed. Please bring your FY2016 Budget ideas and suggestions to the March 4th (A-Shift) General Membership Meeting at 0830 hours – “If you care enough you’ll get involved!”
Here’s a list of important dates with respect to the proposed FY2016 budget process. They are:
February 17, 2015 County Executive presents proposed FY2016 Budget
March 3, 2015 FY2016 Tax rate is approved & FY2015 3rd Quarter Review
April 8, 2015 L-2068 testifies at the FY 2016 Public Hearing @ 1300 hours
April 21, 2015 FY2016 Budget Mark-up
April 28, 2015 FY2016 Budget Adoption
July 1, 2015 FY2016 Budget Starts
The continued involvement in Local 2068’s FirePAC, Political Action, and our professional relationships with the Board of Supervisors explains the reason for an excellent start to the FY2016 Proposed County Budget. There’s a lot of work that remains, but your Executive Board and I are leaning on you, the membership, in assisting us with accomplishing our goals for next fiscal year.
I welcome your questions, comments, criticism, or any other concerns that you may have on your mind. I look forward to a great showing from our membership at the Budget Testimony on April 8th at 1300 hours at the Government Center.
Fraternally and Respectfully Submitted,
John R. Niemiec