Compensation of County Employees

Originally Released 5/31/95

INTRODUCTION

The Grand Jury heard many statements from a variety of sources about the desirability of working for Santa Barbara County, and community complaints regarding the County's wage and benefit structure. Many of these complaints occurred subsequent to the media coverage of the benefits paid to a retiring department head who had been on sick leave for an extended period of time. Publicity regarding the cash payments for unused sick, vacation and holiday time, leave policies, and merit payroll increases involving this particular employee led to taxpayer concern regarding the perceived excessive total compensation (wages/salary/benefits/perquisites) to County employees.

OBJECTIVES

The Grand Jury decided to examine the levels of salaries, wages, benefits, and other compensation paid to County employees, and assess their reasonableness in light of current public and private practices and standards and the process by which it is administered. Compensation to personnel is about $200 million dollars per year, or about 50% of the total County Budget. One strength of County government is the competence and loyalty of the employees who operate the County government. The Grand Jury recognizes that the total compensation should attract and retain good employees, while maintaining a cost structure that is consistent with that of the labor market in Santa Barbara County.

APPROACH

The Grand Jury interviewed several County Supervisors, the County Administrator, the Director and Deputy Director of the Personnel Department, the Auditor-Controller and several members of his staff, several members of the Civil Service Commission, representatives of employee unions, the Taxpayers Association of Santa Barbara County and the Director of the Coalition of Labor, Agriculture and Business. Many reports from the Auditor-Controller's office, the 1994-95 Proposed and Final Budgets, and various other publications listed in the References Consulted section were examined.

OBSERVATIONS

Determining County Compensation

The County of Santa Barbara has approximately 4,000 employees who work in any of over 600 job classifications. Many classifications, such as those for County Administrator, Architect, Forensic Toxicologist and Nutrition Services Chief, contain only one employee. Other classifications such as Clerk Typist, Account Clerk, Eligibility Worker, Sheriff's Deputy, and Corrections Officer may include more than 100 employees each.

Every employee belongs to a specific bargaining unit. The County recognizes about 26 such units at present. These units vary in size from large groups of several hundred to those containing about a dozen employees. Salary increases and particular benefits received by the employee depend a great deal upon which bargaining unit represents them. For example, the 1994 salary and benefit increases averaged 2% for units represented by Locals 535 and 620, 5.6% for management employees, 8% for fire fighters, and 4% for the Sheriff's Department in 1994 with an additional 9.5% added over 1995 and 1996.

Most bargaining units send representatives to meet with the County's labor negotiations team, which usually includes a representative from the Personnel Department and may include departmental representatives, labor attorneys, County Administrative staff, and a representative of the Auditor-Controller's Office. During these negotiations, only the Personnel Department and County Administrative staff representatives confer with the Board of Supervisors in closed sessions.

When agreement upon salary, benefits and other issues is reached, a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) is signed outlining the specifics of the agreement. The Board of Supervisors subsequently issue a Salary Resolution affirming this in open session. These differing MOUs involve a number of benefits customized for each bargaining unit, most of which appear in the County's payroll codes. There were 119 of these codes in 1987, and 158 in 1995, which must be added to the County's 103 payroll deduction categories when calculating the entire county payroll.[1] Many of these benefit codes apply to a very small number of employees, but must nonetheless be calculated every pay period.

Representatives of the County's major bargaining units expressed mistrust of the County's bargaining process, and generally did not believe that "good faith" was exercised. In particular, they did not accept County data on financial problems, and felt that those in charge of the County's bargaining process were very resistant to their input. A recent example of this concerned the County's problems with obtaining the cheapest possible rates for employee medical insurance. Apparently, employee groups were able to get a quotation of lower rates than the designated County staff members for their groups from the same company. These same representatives also stated that they had not been consulted on the possibility of simplifying benefit categories and other issues which might simplify the County's payroll process.

Compensation Surveys

County Code Section 27-24(d) states that it is the duty of the Personnel Department to obtain annual compensation comparisons. However, it appears that this is not done on a regular basis. Many MOUs presently require that annual salary comparisons be made with six contiguous coastal California counties, excluding Los Angeles. This "Six County Survey" includes San Diego, Orange, Ventura, San Luis Obispo, Santa Cruz and Monterey. For management or highly technical personnel, a wider comparative market may be used.

Other counties also use this "Six County Survey", and Santa Barbara County participates in the surveys. This appears to create a ratchet effect which can amount to "fiscal inbreeding", and is perceived by some taxpayers as a vicious cycle. The Grand Jury of San Luis Obispo County released a report on April 18, 1995, which was critical of their county's use of the Prevailing Wage Ordinance as passed by the voters in 1972. They state:

"When a number of organizations are compared, an ever increasing wage structure results because a wage increase in one organization triggers an increase in the average."

The Santa Barbara County Grand Jury searched for all available compensation surveys which might relate to county personnel, including the Santa Barbara Human Resources Association Survey (in which Santa Barbara County participates) and those completed by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, United States Department of Labor. In addition, the Grand Jury contacted several large local employers (excluding the University of California and Vandenberg Air Force Base) for data on their benefit payments. Other compensation data is referenced at the end of this report.

There is a recognized difficulty in comparing the compensation of many of the County positions on an equitable basis with the private sector. However, it is possible to compare many positions accurately. Private sector firms solve the issue of positions that are difficult to compare by extrapolations or interpolations that may be made with the more unique positions utilizing standard wage and job evaluation techniques.

Wage/Salary Comparisons

The Grand Jury evaluated the 1994 Santa Barbara Human Resources Association Compensation Survey. A comparison of 22 County positions from this survey, which covered 456 non-management County employees, yielded a weighted average showing that the County's wages and salaries were almost exactly on a par with the other entities in the study. This study has a large number of County personnel involved, and most of the participating private firms were among the larger County businesses with more than 100 employees. These larger firms generally have higher average wages/salaries than the smaller firms, which employ most of the County's workers. The Grand Jury believes that this sampling suggests that most County

employees are paid on the upper end of the prevailing wage scales. The following table prepared by the Grand Jury from the cited data displays these figures:

                        WAGE AND SALARY SURVEY COMPARISON                                             

     POSITION              ALL PARTICIPANTS                       COUNTY EMPLOYEES                

                     Number    Median     Weighted   Number     Median     Weighted   

                               Wage       Wages                 Wage       Wages      

General Clerk I         98       $ 8.25   $ 808.50       1      $  8.15    $          

General Clerk II    401   35   $11.62 $   $4,659.62  152        $11.62     8.15       

Mail Clerk Data      47   32    9.69 $    $          3  17      $12.15     $1,766.24  

Prep Clerk Word      55   34     9.10     339.15 $   4   23     $11.11     $          

Processor I Word     13   20    $10.71    427.70 $   5    3     $10.00     36.45 $    

Processor II         247 292    $12.52    342.72 $   2  36      $12.52     188.87 $   

Human Resource       192 117    $11.98    688.60 $   47    2    $17.06     40.00 $    

Ass't Computer       195 101    $12.58    407.32 $   72  18     $13.90     287.96 $   

Operator I          14 23 95    $14.04    163.54 $   14   4     $15.91     85.30 $    

Computer Operator    93 145     $10.51    280.80     1 19  13   $10.67     41.70 $    

II Accounting         34 17     $12.23    $2,595.97  9   3      $12.21     31.82 $    

Clerk I              ------    $11.14 $   $3,571.16  8          $12.21 $   384.12 $   

Accounting Clerk      2300       9.19     $2,138.88  ------     9.19       573.87 $   

II Payroll Clerk                $13.78    $1,071.23  456        $13.43     24.42 $    

Secretary I                     $15.95    $2,687.10             $15.59     661.68 $   

Secretary III                  $11.91 $   $1,610.95             $11.91     241.74 $   

Secretary IV                     9.12     $                     $10.10     218.26 $   

Repro Tech                      $14.36    166.74 $              $14.36     47.64 $    

Custodian/Janitor               $17.96    209.76                $16.07     10.10 $    

Facil. Maint.                   $13.16    $1,364.20             $13.16     272.84 $   

Worker 2 Facil.                 $15.80    $1,670.28             $17.49     208.91 $   

Maint. Worker 3                 $20.82    $1,908.20             $20.82     118.44 $   

Stock Room Worker              ---------  $                     ---------  52.47 $    

Accountant I Cost                         537.20 $                         166.56     

Accountant                                353.94                           ---------  

Totals  Average                           ---------                        ----       

Wage Rate  County                         ----                             $5,467.54  

Average As                                $28,007.5                        $  11.99   

Percent of Survey                         6                                98.46%     

                                          $ 12.18                                     

Source: Prepared by the Grand Jury, data from Santa Barbara Human Resources Ass'n, Compensation Survey 1994

Management salaries are much more difficult to analyze. Most salary/wage surveys cover readily comparable jobs such as those in clerical areas, data processing, maintenance, etc. Santa Barbara County has about 272 employees who function as managers and executives in such capacities as Department Heads, Deputy Department Heads, Assistant Department Heads, Division Heads, and other such positions. They are the highest paid County staff and many have salaries which are comparable to those of the County Schools Superintendent and the Governor of California.

There is a great range in wages/salaries paid to County personnel. Many employees earn less than $25,000 per year. A review of County wages and salaries indicates that about 550 employees earn more than $50,000 per year, 153 over $70,000 per year, 16 more than $90,000 per year and 7 more than $110,000 per year in wages/salary. [2] In addition, standard benefits range from $15,000 to $40,000 per year, and this figure does not include car allowances, "unit" (or "benefit") cash and other perquisites.[3] This range becomes particularly important when assessing the cost of percentage increases granted to various groups, and in calculating the value of time taken and/or cashed out for Vacation, Administrative and Sick Leave as will be discussed later in this report.

NEWS, a publication of the Bureau of Labor Statistics of the United States Department of Labor, provided some data on straight-time wages for the nation as a whole. In the private sector, the average wage was $11.90 plus $4.80 for benefits, a total employer cost of $16.70 In state and local governments, the comparable figures were $17.00 plus $7.44, a total employer cost of $24.44.

Some results of the Grand Jury's inquiries are displayed on Graphs #1 and #2. Graph #1, Average Wage Comparisons--California, was prepared by the Grand Jury based on data from the Labor Market Division of the State of California's Employment Development Department, File ES 202, dated March 9, 1995. These data suggest that wages paid to state and local government employees generally exceed those paid to private personnel, and that the discrepancy between these two groups has been growing, especially since 1992.

GRAPH #1

Graph #2, Santa Barbara County--Wages and Salaries, was prepared by the Grand Jury based on the 1994 Santa Barbara County Economic Outlook, Volume 11 of April, 1994 by the UCSB Economic Forecast Project, and shows a dramatic rate of change in local wages and salaries since 1986. The "Total County" figures include all County Workers-both private and government. The "Government" figure gives data for state and County employees only.

GRAPH #2

Benefits and Leave Accrual

A compilation of benefits received by Santa Barbara County employees is included as Exhibit A with this report. Basic benefits include retirement, FICA, Medical, Workers Compensation Insurance, Unemployment Insurance, Management Life Insurance, Management Long Term Disability and a Health Insurance Premium.[4] All county employees receive 12 days of sick leave, 11 paid holidays, and vacation leave pro-rated for time of service. There are numerous other benefits which are given to certain bargaining units only, and the amounts of such benefits may vary from unit to unit.

Administrative Leave is a benefit available to exempt employees, defined as those management and certain professional staff who are exempt from the provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act and generally considered to be salaried rather than hourly workers. This is a benefit rarely found among salaried workers in private industry. County exempt employees are permitted up to two days of leave (time off work) per pay period, or a possible total of fifty-two days per year. This time is generally understood to compensate for extra hours worked by these employees exceeding the standard work week. There were 11,532 hours (about 1,442 days) of such leave taken in 1993, and 10,771 hours (about 1,346 days) in 1994. One individual took 198 hours (about 25 days) of leave in 1993, and another took 219 hours (about 27 days) in 1994.[5]

This Administrative Leave is in addition to whatever vacation, holiday or sick leave that the employee may have used. In fact, exempt personnel accrued an additional 7,400 hours (about 925 days) of unused vacation and holiday time in 1994, to bring the total value of their unfunded deferred leave to almost $3,000,000. [6]

There was a strong correlation between Administrative Leave usage and accumulated leave balances in 1994. This suggests that many of the largest users of Administrative Leave are among the employees with the highest increase in accumulated balances. An analysis of this in the following table permits the conclusion that some employees took Administrative Leave in order to save their vacation time for future payment. The table gives some examples of this. [7]

        EMPLOYEE           ADMINISTRATIVE LEAVE USED   INCREASE IN LEAVE ACCRUAL    

                                  Hours/Days           PLUS VACATION BUY OUT        

                                                       Hours/Days                   

           A                        219/27             81/10                        

           B                        141/18             112/14                       

           C                        112/14             164/20.5                     

           D                        127/16             124/15.5                     

           E                       100/12.5            102/15                       

           F                        117/15             120/15                       

           G                        125/16             100/12.5                     

Exempt personnel may accrue sick time and apply up to 2088 hours (about one full year) of this leave to their retirement pension calculation. Their total accrual at the end of 1994 was 176,614 hours (22,077 days).[8] This increases the County's pension liability which increasesthe annual payments to the pension fund.

The County's vacation allowance is 31% greater than the average of other employers in Santa Barbara County as determined by taking the average allowance for each of the first 25 years of tenure. [9] Although most employees use all of their time off, many do not. Employees may defer and be paid for up to 80 hours of vacation pay per year. During the fourth quarter of 1994, the County paid various employees $297,723.74 for unused vacation. Approximately 300 employees were paid from $500 to $1000 for unused vacation leave. Payroll data from the Auditor-Controller's Office shows that some employees are paid even more for this. For example:

* 27 people received over $1,000

* 35 people received over $2,000

* 7 people received over $3,000.[10]

There is significant magnification when leave accrual is translated into actual dollars paid. Employees are not paid for this time at their rate of pay during time of accrual, but at the rate of pay when they collect such benefit. For example, an employee making $15.00 per hour who accumulates 10 hours of leave may collect for those hours years later when he is making in excess of $30.00 per hour. At present, data from the Auditor-Controller's Office states that:

* In calendar year 1994, the Holiday accrual balance increased by $300,000 to a total of $2,163,000.

* The Vacation accrual balance for the same period increased by almost $1,000,000 to a total of $12,000,000.

* As of December 31, 1994, the total of this unfunded liability is approximately $14,000,000, and is apparently rising at a very significant rate.[11]

In addition, concern was expressed by some County officials that the County's practice of computing certain other benefits for exempt employees on an hourly basis has created the potential for future litigation under the Fair Labor Standards Act.

Other Benefits and Perquisites

The County offers other numerous benefits which are utilized by various employee units. These include alternative work schedules, a voluntary furlough program, various educational allowances, car allowances, bi-lingual pay (even when this is a job qualification) and alternative transportation compensation.

Alternative work schedules allow employees to work more hours for fewer days, and take time off. This includes the 9/80, 4/10, and 3/4 systems, which involve working 80 hours during the standard two week pay period in fewer than ten working days. These programs are popular with employees, and are intended to accomplish the same amount of work at no additional cost to the County. Testimony was received that this has created staffing problems, additional overtime, and suspicions that employees do not put in a full forty hours per week.

The combination of these alternate work schedules with the generous County leave allowances suggests that an average employee working on the 9/80 system with ten years of County service might be absent from his/her job as follows:

* 22 days for alternative work schedule time

* 12 days for sick leave

* 11 holidays

* 19 days of vacation

* TOTAL: 64 days, or about 3 months not at work every year

This total does not include Administrative Leave for an exempt employee, and an employee working on the 4/10 or 3/4 schedule would have up to 26 days additional time off. These are legitimate benefits as negotiated with the County Board of Supervisors and formalized in Memoranda of Understanding.

The County has a "Voluntary Furlough" program wherein employees, upon approval by their superiors, may take almost unlimited time off without pay. However, all benefits, including retirement and vacation accruals, are continued. Testimony was received that many people use this for extended vacations and also for trial periods at a job with a new employer before making a final decision on whether or not to leave County employment.

The County participates in a "Transportation Demand Management" Program, designed to encourage the use of ride-sharing and alternative forms of transportation in order to minimize impact on freeways and surface streets. At present, participating employees receive an incentive of two extra days of vacation for participation in this program. Testimony was received that the County was advised to reward employees with a flat amount of cash for each pay period of participation. This idea was discarded, and the payment by vacation option chosen. Due to the large discrepancy in employee salaries, this costs the county more than the flat amount payment.

The Grand Jury made note of certain benefits which apply only to particular bargaining units.

Some of these are:

* An automobile allowance of $46 to $206 bi-weekly to certain management employees. This is a vanishing perquisite in the private sector.

* A mileage payment of $0.30 per mile is provided in addition to the automobile allowance. This mileage rate is calculated to cover the cost of automobile ownership as well as the operating costs, and is clearly a partial double payment.

*Uniform allowances intended to defray the cost of uniforms required on the job are paid to some employees. However, different amounts are paid to employees in different bargaining groups even though the uniforms are identical.

* Executives, management personnel, and members of three employee associations receive from $50 to $73 bi-weekly for the employee's share of their retirement costs.[12]

The County pays most employees another benefit commonly called "unit" or "benefit cash," which varies from $40.80 to $188.00 bi-weekly.[13] This is a cash payment to pay for benefits (such as dependent health insurance) or given directly to the employee. The total amount is considered income to the employee, and adds to eventual retirement benefits. The Grand Jury was unable to determine why the County handles this as a "unit" or "benefit cash" perquisite with potential retirement impact, and not simply as a direct County paid benefit.

The Grand Jury's survey of local firms yielded the following results:

* The County's benefits (excluding Administrative Leave, and the buy-back and accrual policies) were at the upper edge of the range for larger companies.

* The County's benefits were far in excess of those offered by the smaller private firms (fewer than 100 staff) who employ 72% of the private sector workers in Santa Barbara County.[14]

* Certain benefits such as Administrative Leave, and the buy-back and leave accrual policies, were considerably in excessof those offered by both large and small employers.

Job Security

The unemployment rate for Santa Barbara County has averaged 7.45% per year for the last three years.[15] A review of national data indicates that from 1975 to 1993 the unemployment rate for private industry has averaged 3.5% higher than that of government employees.[16]

Most County employees are covered by the Civil Service System, which creates a layer of job security which is generally not available to employees in the private sector. Involuntary terminations from County employment have totaled about 1% of the total work force per year over the last three years. There is also a strong perception in the public's mind that government employees enjoy virtually total job security once they pass their probationary period.

County Compensation Planning

Members of the Grand Jury attended a meeting of the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors on February 7, 1995. During this meeting the Auditor-Controller presented written documents stating:

"We notice that the County has no comprehensive planning process for salary and benefit changes on an annual or on a long range basis."

"...we recommend that the Board direct the County Administrator's Office to develop a strategic plan regarding employee relations, compensation, and benefits."[17]

During this public session, several Supervisors and the County Administrator commented that they did not need or want comprehensive planning in these areas.

When wages, salaries and/or benefits are proposed to the Board of Supervisors, they are often covered under the term "No Fiscal Impact". This term suggests to most people that no actual cost is involved when, in fact, it simply means that the action does not impact the budget. Rarely does the actual dollar cost and projected duration of such cost appear in public documents.

The Grand Jury also notes that the Board of Supervisors approved new wage/salary and benefit packages in November of 1994. By January of 1995, the County Administrator initiated discussions with the Board regarding a several-million dollar County shortfall.

DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSIONS

The Grand Jury had considerable contact with many County employees during the year and found that most are competent and concerned workers who pay taxes and contribute to the economy of Santa Barbara County. These employees deserve reasonable and adequate compensation for their work. However, other taxpaying residents of Santa Barbara County are well aware of the economic troubles which have involved the nation in general and California in particular during the last several years. It is difficult for private sector employees, most of whom have not had raises in several years and many of whom have actually seen their income decrease, to accept the need for continuing compensation increases and generous benefit packages for some public employees.

The comparison of wages paid to public and private employees is not simple, but may be done both by direct comparison and by using methods of interpolation and extrapolation using standard wage and job evaluation techniques. Many private industries measure their success by profits earned and demand for their products and/or services. The size of their work force is dependent upon these factors. Government entities are not, by their nature, able to use these measures to evaluate employee value.

One concern of the Grand Jury is that the very employees who recommend compensation adjustments to the Board of Supervisors also profit from such adjustments. These changes are made in private sessions with the Board of Supervisors, unlike the public hearings which are given to other compensation adjustments. For any changes, the total dollar amount involved in such adjustments is rarely provided to the public.

The Grand Jury's examination of wage/salary/benefit data suggests that in many cases public sector employees earn at least as much in wages and salaries, and considerably more in benefits

than private workers. Those choosing careers in government, especially at the management levels, should not expect to earn more than the higher risk private sector employees. In an era of diminishing fiscal resources available to all levels of government, the continued payment of generous wage/salary/benefit packages and the growth in these packages is unacceptable. It may be necessary for governments to reassess the value of these compensation packages.

FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

FINDING #1: A comparison of local wage scales and trends between governmental wages and the general work force on both a statewide and County-wide basis suggest that the current County wage scale (exclusive of benefits) is in the upper end of the local range. The rate of increase is greater than that of the general work force.

RECOMMENDATION #1: The Board of Supervisors should obtain a professional evaluation of current wage and salary levels for County employees, adjusted for fringe benefits and established job security variances, to determine whether the present compensation package is appropriate to attract and maintain a qualified work force while not burdening taxpayers with excessive employee cost .

FINDING #2: Salary comparisons between various counties, such as the "Six County Survey", have a self-perpetuating ratchet effect that unduly increases compensation levels. Many positions in County government can be compared to those in the private sector.

RECOMMENDATION #2a: The Board of Supervisors should direct that the annual primary compensation comparison for County positions be made with the private sector whenever possible. This comparison should include all fringe benefits and a job security factor which may be significant enough to merit different wage scales for similar positions in the public/private sector.

RECOMMENDATION #2b: For jobs not directly comparable with the private sector, the Board of Supervisors should direct the Personnel Department to select and use standard job evaluation techniques in order to assess reasonable compensation packages. This would achieve a more reasonable internal equity among County employees.

FINDING #3: Leave allowances and unused leave accruals appear to be excessive by private industry standards. This creates staffing problems, increases in unfunded County liability, and possible abuses by exempt employees.

RECOMMENDATION #3a: The Board of Supervisors, County Administrator and Personnel Director should immediately examine County leave policies with the intent and purpose of decreasing the yearly allowance and limiting future accruals. These changes could be implemented as the MOUs expire and/or as new employees are hired.

RECOMMENDATION #3b: The Board of Supervisors and Personnel Director should revise the Administrative Leave policy for exempt employees to eliminate use of such leave except in extraordinary or emergency situations. The County Administrator shall monitor such leave for Department Head level employees.

RECOMMENDATION #3c: The Board of Supervisors, County Administrator and Auditor-Controller must institute procedures to reimburse prior yearly leave accrual at the wage/salary rate at which it was earned, rather than the wage/salary rate at the time of settlement.

RECOMMENDATION #3d: The Board of Supervisors, County Administrator and Personnel Director should take all steps necessary to ensure that leave accrual policies do not add time to an employee's pension benefit calculations.

FINDING #4: It is recognized that every Memorandum of Understanding is a binding document which outlines compensation packages for employee groups. However, sick leave and vacation accrual policies in these Memoranda are excessive by comparison to the private sector.

RECOMMENDATION #4a: County Sick Leave accrual must be considered as protection against actual future illness, and the Board of Supervisors should not allow accrual for potential pension calculation credit and/or leave payment.

RECOMMENDATION #4b: County Vacation Leave should be used for the purposes of providing the employee with physical rest, mental relaxation, and private time. The Board of Supervisors should direct that up to 80 hours of vacation not taken during a during a calendar year (based upon the employee's anniversary date) must be used within the following calendar year, or lost.

FINDING #5: The Grand Jury notes that many County benefits and perquisites given to employees appear to be unusual and excessive when compared to those in the private sector.

RECOMMENDATION #5: The Board of Supervisors should examine the following benefits and perquisites, among others, for the purposes of simplification and/or elimination as the appropriate MOUs expire:

1. Benefit Allowance

2. Voluntary Furlough with benefit accumulation

3. Bilingual allowance when this is an initial job requirement

4. County payments towards the employee's share of retirement for highly paid management employees.

FINDING #6: The Board of Supervisors and County Administrator have shown little interest in establishing a long-range plan for County compensation.

RECOMMENDATION #6: The Board of Supervisors should direct the County Administrator and Personnel Director to develop a long-range (3 to 5 year) plan for compensation based upon a County long-range financial projection. This plan will take into consideration the best projections available of variations in revenues, expenses and internal equity and form a framework for orderly and equitable negotiations with the various bargaining units.

FINDING #7: The use of the term ;No Fiscal Impact" when dealing with County compensation changes is misleading and serves to obscure the real costs of such changes.

RECOMMENDATION #7: The County Administrator and Personnel Director should abandon the use of the term "No Fiscal Impact" when discussing compensation changes. Reasonable estimates of the number of employees involved, projection of dollar costs and source of the funds involved should be provided to the Board of Supervisors and the public for such changes.

FINDING #8: The Santa Barbara County payroll presently contains 158 benefit codes and 103 deduction categories. The sheer number of these codes and categories creates unnecessary complexity in the bi-weekly payroll production, and this complexity has increased by an average of 5 new benefit categories per year since 1987.

RECOMMENDATION #8: The Board of Supervisors should direct the County Administrator and Personnel Director to work with the Auditor-Controller to simplify the present payroll system and prevent a proliferation of benefit categories in future Memoranda of Understanding.

AFFECTED AGENCIES (California Penal Code Section 933c requires that comments to Findings and Recommendations be made in writing within 60 by all affected agencies except governing bodies, which are allowed 90 days.)

1. Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors -response

2. Santa Barbara County Administrator - response

3. Santa Barbara County Auditor-Controller - response

4. Santa Barbara County Personnel Director - response

REFERENCES CITED

  1. Data provided by the Santa Barbara County Auditor-Controller, March 1995
  2. Data from 12/9/94 Print-out of County salaries, prepared by the Santa Barbara County Auditor Controller
  3. Memo from Santa Barbara County Auditor-Controller, March 17, 1995
  4. Attachment to letter from Santa Barbara County Personnel Director to the Grand Jury, November 18, 1994
  5. Santa Barbara County Auditor-Controller report, January 26, 1995
  6. Ibid
  7. Ibid
  8. Ibid
  9. Data from the Santa Barbara Human Resources Association, 1994 Benefits Survey
  10. Vacation Payout as of December 1994, prepared by the Santa Barbara County Auditor- Controller, received by Grand Jury January 26, 1994
  11. Santa Barbara County Auditor-Controller, January 26, 1995 , op. cit.
  12. Letter from Santa Barbara County Personnel Director, op.cit.
  13. Ibid
  14. Santa Barbara County Economic Outlook," Volume 12, April 1995, by the UCSB Economic Forecast Project
  15. Ibid
  16. Employment Cost Indexes and Levels, 1975-94, U. S.Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Bulletin 2447, p. 417, September 1994
  17. Board Agenda Letter prepared by Assistant Auditor-Controller John Torrell, February 7, 1995

REFERENCES CONSULTED

California Employee Advisor, Special Paid Time Off Supplement 1995 California

Employer Alert, Inc.

Santa Barbara County Auditor-Controller Internal Department memo, March 17, 1995,

regarding Explanation of Items in Executive Salaries Report

Labor Market Division, Employment Development Department, State of California,

File ES 202

Santa Barbara Human Resources Association, Compensation Survey, 1994

Santa Barbara Human Resources Association, Benefits Survey Questionnaire, 1994,

completed by Santa Barbara County

Santa Barbara Human Resources Association, Benefits Survey Results, 1994

"The Santa Barbara County Budget, a White Paper; by the Taxpayers Association of Santa

Barbara County, April 1992

"The 1994 Santa Barbara County Economic Outlook", Volume 11, April 1994, by the UCSB

Economic Forecast Project

"The 1995 Santa Barbara County Economic Outlook", Volume 12, April 1995, by the UCSB

Economic Forecast Project

Santa Barbara County Employees Retirement Association Information Brochure for Employees,

Cover letter dated 1986

Santa Barbara County Auditor-Controller Department memo regarding County-wide Vacation and Sick Leave balances prepared for the Grand Jury, February 24, 1995.

Santa Barbara County Auditor-Controller memo "Management Sick Leave Balances, 1993/94 Calendar Year" dated January 26, 1995

Santa Barbara County Auditor-Controller memo "Earnings Type Analysis Comparison 1993/94"

dated January 30, 1995

Santa Barbara County Auditor-Controller memo "Management Administrative Leave Usage,

1993/94 Calendar Year Comparison" dated January 26, 1995

Santa Barbara County Auditor-Controller memo "Management Leave Balances, 1993/94 Calendar Year Comparison-does not include Sick Leave" dated January 26, 1995

Santa Barbara County Auditor-Controller memo "Vacation Payouts for 1994", undated

"Employment Cost Indexes and Levels, 1975-1994" by the United States Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Bulletin 2447, September, 1994

Bellman, Dale; Franklin, Thomas E.; Heywood, John S. "Comparing Public and Private Earnings Using State Wage Surveys" Journal of Economics and Social Measurement,

Volume 20, #2, Summer 1994, p. 79

Tracy, Joseph; Gyourko, Joseph "An analysis of public and private-sector wages allowing for endogenous choices of both government and union status" Journal of Labor Economics,

Volume 6, #2, Spring 1988, p. 229

"Employment and Payroll Data-Statewide by Sector-1984-1993" Fax transmittal to the Grand Jury from the State of California, Office of Employment Development, March 10, 1995

1994 Management Benefits Resolution completed by the Director of the Santa Barbara County Personnel Department for the Board of Supervisor's Agenda, November 1, 1994

Letter from the Santa Barbara County Administrator to the Auditor Controller, dated

September 28, 1994, "Response to Your March 3, 1994 Memo and Report to the Board of Supervisors Regarding Payroll Simplification"

Letter from the Santa Barbara County Auditor-Controller to the Board of Supervisors, "Study of Payroll/Benefits Structure" dated March 3, 1994

1993-94 San Luis Obispo County Grand Jury Report "Prevailing Wage Ordinance, County of San Luis Obispo"

"Classification and Compensation Study for Departmental Administrative Support Classes Effective April 25, 1994" (the Becker/Bell Study), adopted by the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors Resolution 94-237

Memo from the Santa Barbara County Personnel Director "1992-1995 Regular County Employee Separations by Reason" dated April 12, 1995

"Employment and Earnings, monthly January issue and Employment Analysis Trends 1975- 1994" from the United States Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics

Letter from Robert W. Geis, Santa Barbara County Auditor-Controller to the Board of

Supervisors in re: Study of Payroll/Benefits Structure, March 3, 1994

Letter from County Administrator Kent Taylor and Personnel Director Ann Goodrich to Robert Geis, Santa Barbara County Auditor-Controller, "Response to Your March 3, 1994 Memo and Report to the Board of Supervisors Regarding Payroll Simplification," dated

September 28, 1994

Agenda Board Letter from John Torrell, CPA, Chief, Internal Audit, to the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors, February 7, 1995

Memo from County Administrator Kent Taylor to the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors, "Comments and Recommendations on the Auditor-Controller's Preliminary Review of Payroll Benefits Structure," dated February 22, 1995

Exhibit A - see printed report[18]