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Wednesday, September 17, 2014

NorCo Exec Brown: "I Have No Intention of Laying People Off"

If you are among the 2,200 people who work for Northampton County, you have been waiting for this report.

I'll start with the good news.

During a news conference this afternoon,Northampton  County Exec John Brown stated that the County workforce is the "most valuable asset we have." He denied telling anyone that he wants county workers to evaluate whether they really want to be here. He denied that there's a hiring freeze or that he has no intention of filling 16 vacancies at the jail. He denied that he's targetting any specific Department.

He also reassured workers concerned about their job security. "I have no intention of laying people off," he said. He also denied any plans to privatize county services "at this time", including custodial. He added that no department head has proposed layoffs.

He indicated he has every intention of offering a competitive total compensation package.

"We plan to contunue being a good employer," he said.

Now for the bad news.

Brown does expects wages to remain flat. He calls that part of the "active discussions" taking place in union negotiation. He declined to get into other aspects, like sick time and vacation.

He also wants the workforce to bear more of the burden of rising healthcare costs, regardless whether the County has a Cadillac plan. He is making "minor changes" that will have "as little impact on the employee as possible." He wants to "encourage consumerism" during the open enrollment in health care plans that starts on October 1. He insists that the County wil continue to offer a "robust" health plan.

Brown did give a 1 1/2 hour power point presentation to the labor leadership a few weeks ago. He plans on giving an abbreviated version of that presentation to County Council tomorrow evening, and promised to make it available to the media at that time as well.

He also provided a brief outline explaining the numbers, whgich I am providing below:

NorCo Employee Benefits Package
Employees are critical to the continued success of Northampton County. Northampton County has been able to attract and retain a dedicated workforce through offering a competitive compensation package that includes:
a. Salary
b. Healthcare Plan
c. Defined Benefit Pension Plan
d. Healthcare
e. Job Security
f. Work Environment
Tax Revenues, which are used to pay for the benefit programs, have remained relatively flat for the past several years. Despite revenues remaining flat, the County has consistently supported the benefits program for our employees. Costs paid by the County for the core benefit programs offered by Northampton County to all our employees are as follows:
a. Defined Benefit Pension
1. 2008 = $ 0.6 million
2. 2014= $ 11.8 million
b. Post Retirement Medical
1. 2008= $ 6.2 million
2. 2014= $ 5.7 million
c. Healthcare Cost
1. 2008 =
$ 16.7 million
2. 2014 =
$ 22.0 million
Cost to support the defined benefit pension and healthcare plans have significantly outpaced the tax revenue generation by the County.
a. Tax Revenue
1. 2009 = $ 83.0 million
2. 2014 = $ 87.7 million
3. Increase of $ 4.7 million between 2009 and 2014
b. Total Cost of core benefits paid by Northampton County:
1. 2008 = $ 23.5 million
2. 2014 = $ 39.5 million
3. Increase of $ 16.0 million between 2008 and 2014
c. Total Net Cost increase = $ 11.3 million
Northampton County will continue to provide a competitive total compensation package for all our employees but require your support and active participation in order to reduce costs and minimize required changes. Over the next few weeks the County will provide plan specific details to employees regarding changes being offered in the healthcare benefit program
Updated 6:45: In 2010, Northampton County Covoted to end post-retirement health care, but that only applied to new hires.

53 comments:

Anonymous said...

so lets see if I got this right ...no raise plus pay more for healthcare = even less pay ? are you serious...

Anonymous said...

For all the people of Northampton County, how are they going to attract or keep people working with no raises. They are going to try to cut as much as they can from workers sick time,vacation time. Health Care cost is a joke at this time nothing happens till 2018. If you call doubling the deductible adding a 10% coinsurance reasonable. There are county workers receiving county assistance. Just wait till 2015 when you have to dial 911, or worry about keeping someone in Juvenile Detention Center or the Prison. They will be understaffed or staffed with people who would've not made the grade before.

Anonymous said...

"Consumerism"?

Does that mean that we will offer you a healthplan package, but if you use it, you'll pay through the nose? Sounds like normal political talk to me.

I don't believe he is actively negotiating with the unions, since arbitration times are already set, and I was told that he isn't discussing anything anymore.

Love how he avoided the vacation and sick time questions. He did say that he wanted to reduce vacation time to 2 weeks regardless of time served and drastically reduce sick time.

Guess I shouldn't worry about the sick time since I won't be able to afford getting any procedure done anyway -"Consumerism".

Anonymous said...

What a crock of political BS!

Anonymous said...

Obama had no intention of taking over General Motors and running a car company ...

Anonymous said...

Hiring freeze? Well he has refused to post vacancies that have been empty for months! But I guess since he doesn't call it a hiring freeze it's not.

Anonymous said...

Well said! Do you have a PR group?

Anonymous said...

if you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor..

if you like your health care plan, you can keep your health care plan

Anonymous said...

Obama had nothing but the best of intentions with the Affordable Health Care Law ... that is why it was passed on Christmas Eve.

Anonymous said...

Do the charts show how much the county gets reimbursed for human service employees? Has that been deducted from his great PR charts? For those of us who are long time employees all he really want us to do is leave.

Anonymous said...

Consumerism. What is that supposed to mean? Lets see if you cand find the best deal on a knee replacment? Decide if you should eat this week or go to the doctors? Oh please lets pretend we are all STUPID!

Peter J.Cochran said...

Bernie, We in Easton city have been going threw this same issue. Fact is, Everywhere there will be a correction in the market . We in Easton pay more now too and it's the way it will be. Teachers for example in S. V.EDUCATION want raises, they want, but if you don't like making $70,000-$90,000 a year for 180 day 's plus $ $28,000 in benefits on medical/pension go to Johnson and Johnson or Exxon in New Jersey and see what your worth . Time for us all to get with taxpayer reality. It's Camry not Lexis-mechanically same vehicle ,unless you produce your own income.I live on the cheap because I know I can not sustain my 'widow' after retirement very long. No- 4,500 -6,000 sq home for me and I now have a good income ,and could have a home like that-- but I must look out for my spouse when she is an old lady.

Anonymous said...

Ability to Motivate. Leaders don’t lead by telling people what they have to do. Instead, leaders cause people to want to help them. A key part of this is cultivating your own desire to help others. When others sense that you want to help them, they in turn want to help you.

Anonymous said...

Most county workers make no where near 70000. try about 23000

Anonymous said...

Most county workers make no where near 70000. try about 23000

Anonymous said...

Well I am no where near making 70,000-80,000 a year. My home is less than 1200 sq. feet and my car is 18 years old. I have only been with the county for less than 5 years, had no intention of working for the county but my previous employer eliminated my department and I had no choice, I am quite frustrated with losing what few benefits I have through no fault of my own.

Anonymous said...

Lead and inspire people. Don’t try to manage and manipulate people

Bernie O'Hare said...

"my car is 18 years old."

I'm currently driving a '91. I'm pretty sure the women love it. They all stare as I drive by.

Peter J.Cochran said...

Bernie ,your '91' is a Toyota Pick up truck that won't die before you will.Crank windows and the A/C probably does not work if existent.No woman would be impressed by this UNLESS you had $69,547,27 in you pocket.

Bernie O'Hare said...

I thought it was my ride.

Peter J.Cochran said...

6;04 Anon , I can speak only from what I know and that I don't think the folks in Magistrates offices are paid well enough. They are at the head end of the dredges many times, dealing with total nincompoops a lot of the day . I agree salary ranges should get adjusted somewhat here.

Anonymous said...

Heard that before: I was not having sex with the person who was having sex with me!

Peter J.Cochran said...

Sorry forgot to mention the Sheriff's employees that I had to see recently. Both the Deputy and the nice lady clerk at my handgun renewal were just as professional and vocally articulate as Ph.D's How do you replace people like this?

Anonymous said...

Peter, you replace them by not paying them a living wage, then you get inarticulate people making minimum wage trying to help you. This is the "plan"

Anonymous said...

The executive will never mention the reimbursement rate from many employees, it goes against whatever agenda he has in the works!

Anonymous said...

Brown is terrible. Was, is, and will be awful!! :(

Anonymous said...


Peter Cochran, Many Human service workers also deal with drug users, the mentally ill, illiterate, child perps etc. they are working directly with the clients in their homes, with little safety precautions. I would like to see Mr. Brown go out on a home visit with a volatile parent accused of neglecting her child. And then tell that worker they can't have sick time, raises or a vacation.

Peter J.Cochran said...

Anon 7;09 Sounds like 'The McDonald work plan where you don't rely on anyone and they then go away and less worker's comp. claims . It would end up being a 'MILL".Well personnel should have years ago started an aggressive upward program of advancement based on merit.,management and accountability. That way no one can criticize or lay out an employee for not knowing 'how to' or place them in a patronage category. At least my experiences with most all in criminal division and Sheriff's Office and my local Magistrates had been they knew what to do and were good at it.I did not care much for our last Sheriff's demeanor as he would not even respond to my request about a local fugitive --but that was no reflection on his staff.So be it!

Disappointed County Employee said...

I have worked in a district court for 23 years and don't even make $40,000.00 a year. With each contract, we have seen a raise that results in less take home pay due to increases in medical contributions. It has taken an average of 4 years to negotiate a new contract. During contract negotiations, our salaries are frozen. We receive a retro pay once the new contract is accepted. However, we get taxed at a higher rate, as if it were a bonus. Explain to me how we benefit from a $1,000.00 take home retro payment added to one payroll check for 4 years with no change in income. We would benefit from a 1% raise each year and that isn't even close to the percentage the cost of living increases from year to year. Oh, and we don't receive cost of living raises either. When I say no increases to salary, I mean absolutely no change. The only thing that made the county worth working for was the health care, pension, and vacation/personal/sick time. We have accepted low salary increases from contract to contract in negotiation to keep an affordable health care plan. Now it looks like we would've been better off fighting for the increases in salary, which would help manage the proposed increase we are about to see in our health care contributions. I am very disappointed in our union and our county.

Peter J.Cochran said...

7;33 anon You are correct ,that can turn real bad for caseworker. I have in the past done child home inspections for domestic judge and reported what I would observe.Complains were made by for spouses of coarse, and I would step up -unannounced with court order in hand ,I know what your saying.Your demeanor and ability to wade through this mess is more that you are paid for.Not to forget your personal risk of injury. Maggie ,being a tough experienced individual has help me on the phone with details needed just like live streaming..

Anonymous said...

Northampton County will lose a lot of dedicated, knowledgeable employees; county services, and ultimately the citizens, will suffer. I've worked for the county for almost ten years and although I love my job, the current situation is forcing my hand. I've already started circulating my resume and I know a lot of my co-workers are doing the same.

Anonymous said...

Was Brownie's handler Kim in the room during the staged press conference? Was she tugging on his shirt cuff when he went off-message?

Peter J.Cochran said...

LEADERSHIP is an art form. Rap Artist are not artists at all.Leadership ,the ability to get humans and sometime domestic animals to do things that they would not normally do. To go forward and with personal integrity,competency and demeanor. To lead a government each and every public sole must give 110% of themselves. THE PROBLEMS are in the structure the fabric of the gut of government. not the people that work for it. Good night .

Bernie O'Hare said...

"Was Brownie's handler Kim in the room during the staged press conference? "

She and another fellow from Sahl were in the room, but Brown spoke for himself.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Disappointed, Thank you for your heartfelt comment. I believe Brown reads this blog now and then, and I hope your comments touches him as it did me.

Anonymous said...

I am a county employee of over 20 years. I too am disappointed with both the union and county. I will be present at tomorrow's county council meeting to see what the council has too say about the healthcare benefits. I hope other county employees come out as well.

Anonymous said...

It only cost the county a grand under contract for the half hour the Sahl phonies baby sat Brown in his rehearsed press conference.

Anonymous said...

Don't worry, he'll just reduce our vacation and sick time to help pay for it.

Anonymous said...

this makes me sick. i have worked for the county for 6.5 years and i wish i never started. The only good part of working for the county is/was the benefits. i have small children and need these benefits for them mostly. I also have started looking elsewhere for employment. im sure this will come to bite Brown in the @$$. he will lose many dedicated personnel with in the county. the prison is 16 officers short. guess what.....that number isnt going down. its going to keep climbing. i guess ill have to start taking some of that overtime Brown is forcing on us to make up the difference in my pay check.

Anonymous said...

Wishin' you had a "like" button for some of these comments...

Anonymous said...

You get what you vote for.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Brown presents only a selective set of facts and figures to support his point of view, and does it in a way that masks what he really wants.

He uses the Northampton County News (an e-mail publication for employees), power point presentations and video chats to control his message; all of which are one-way forms of communication.

For example, he “explains” the numbers by citing pension and healthcare costs of 43 million, with only 87.7 in tax revenue. But we are not dolts. Given that Northampton County’s 2014 revenues are budgeted at 343 million, Mr. Brown is trying to make the situation appear much more dire than it is by only citing taxes generated by Northampton County residents-the 87.7 million.

In the video presentation for employees, Mr. Brown cites the likelihood of a 9 million dollar penalty on the Cadillac Health Plan. A so-called Cadillac Plan is based on the cost of premiums paid, not benefits received. My understanding is that Northampton County is self insured and, therefore, pays no premiums. Mr. Brown further states that the County paid $4000 per person in health care costs, which seems a far cry from the Cadillac threshold of $10,200 per employee. Yet, he insists that the County is facing this terrible financial penalty, if the health plan is not changed.

Mr. Brown may be good at conveying his own point of view but he is very weak at truly communicating with his people. Still, you have to wonder what he really has in mind.

Anonymous said...

The employees of the county are acting predictably the way they always do. they go about their lives in compete ignorance and indifference to elections. Then when they sit home on county election days and something they don't like happens, they cry, cry, cry.

Just what did you think would happen when a tea party endorsed Republican slate was elected? "Oh Peg is so sweet". HaHa! Did you think your insulated little world would just roll on? This is not the first time and it probably won't be the last time. Maybe one day you will get off your cloud of indifference and pay attention before elections. I know a few candidates last year who predicted this would happen. Too bad you employees were busy watching Bravo reruns.

Anonymous said...

They brought it on themselves. Go cry a river.

Anonymous said...

Do you think County employees are the only reason John Brown is in office? I am a county employee and while I do enjoy a good Bravo rerun I took time to vote and Mr Brown wasn't my choice. In fact most if those I have spoken with did not pick Mr Brown either. Why is everyone pushing his election win on the County employees? First it's the employees fault for the budget and now it's our fault he's in office. The people who serve the county making small salaries are the easy target.

Anonymous said...

The County is supposed to do a employee benefits and salary survey every year. They are to gather information from other businesses and entities in the surrounding counties and compare that data with the salary and benefits packages of Northampton County Employees. I believe that is a Charter mandate or an administrative code mandate. I don't have copies in front of me so I don't know which one to reference.
The last pay survey and study was done in the early 1990's. It cost the county millions to correct the wages of its employees because we were so under payed. In the last twenty years, we have again slid into a huge pay slump. It all started with Brackbill and continued with Reibman and Stoffa. Now it it will be getting worse with Brown. How much more are we supposed to take? I'm retiring shortly. I simply can't take the pressure anymore.
Please sign me as
A devoted 30 plus year employee

Anonymous said...

Looks as if a few people saw the handwriting o the wall, within the past year and a half the jail lost a few seasoned Lt's along with several officers who were getting worn down by change after change with both the jail adminstration and the culture of the county. There are several other officers looking at various options as well. Although they say the grass isn't always greener it probably smells much better then the load of shit Brown is passing along. Maybe the warden is right when he makes the comment to officers that "Burger King is hiring", whenever someone has a complaint.

Anonymous said...

it doesn't matter what Brown does, the commenters have already decided their opinion. when you always are looking for the crap in a situation, that will be all you will see. they are looking for crap, so that is all they will see, regardless. crap detectives. if you look for positive, you will always see it. the difference is the eyes of the beholder and how they choose to live their human experience. meanwhile there are actually a few people who are doing/acting instead of talking/posting/complaining. what a concept.

Anonymous said...

I'm a county employee. I didn't vote for brown. Don't try to push this on County employees. Morale is at an all time low. This isn't going to make it any better. I bet a lot a people are going to not work as hard now. Why work hard to take home less money? Not just the employees will suffer from this, but everyone the county deals with will suffer.

Anonymous said...

How did NorCo's pension costs go from .6 to 11 million in 6 years? Looks like someone fucked up big time and will now blame it on the workers.

Bernie O'Hare said...

What planet have you been on? Rising pension costs, brought about be defined benefit pensions plus a shitty economy, have been the big story in municipal government. I guess you don't really give a shit until you are personally effected.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"there are actually a few people who are doing/acting instead of talking/posting/complaining."

In this country, the actions you just derided are called government. if you don't like democracy, I'm sure Putin or some other oligarch will have you. But here, when people bitch and yell and complain, that is government at work.

Anonymous said...

What planet have you been on? Rising pension costs, brought about be defined benefit pensions plus a shitty economy, have been the big story in municipal government. I guess you don't really give a shit until you are personally effected.

Yes, that's what a pension plan is by definition. The only way to have that kind of shortfall is gross mismanagement or dipping into pension funds or pension fund payments for other things.

If you dutifully deposit funds into an account, it will grow. You don't suddenly wake up and have 10 million dollars disappear. I guess economics was not a strong area for you.