Friday, September 12, 2014

Phillips, Geissinger Hint at Labor Cuts and Tax Hikes

In early October, Northampton County Executive John Brown will be releasing his proposed budget next year to the public. By now, he already has one in draft form, but is playing his cards close to the vest. But the outward signs are bad. Though union negotiations are supposed to be secret, the whispers at the courthouse are that the administration plans to balance next year's budget on the back of the County worker. Recent radio appearances by two Council members allied with Brown certainly support that theory.

Hayden Phillips and Glenn Geissinger, who've been in office a little less than a year, have certainly said enough to concern both taxpayers and the workforce. It appears that both personnel cuts and a tax hike are in the cards. They made these these statements during recent appearances (8/26 and 9/11) on WAEB's Bobby Gunther Walsh show.

Hayden Phillips' Points.
Hayden Phillips

- Refused during his campaign to take a no-tax-hike pledge.
- We are spending $18 million more this year than we are receiving in revenue.
- Our revenue is flat.
- Our reserve is exhausted.
- Reimbursements from the state and federal government are decreasing.
- Personnel costs are rising.
- Seven union contracts are being negotiated.

"You put all that together and I don't see how we can get through without doing some cutting. I'm not an advocate of a tax increase, but I don't see the math right now ... how that could work itself out."

So he is all but predicting a tax hike.

According to Phillips, Executive John Brown has directed that expenses be cut by 10% and has imposed a hiring freeze. Still, "we are in a bad situation."

Phillips stated that Brown is attempted to "make some inroads" in labor negotiations, adding that 43% of the County's spending is on personnel. "I think the big thing is going to be personnel," Phillips predicts about John Brown cuts next year. He adds the County should have suspended open space spending..

So he is predicting bog cuts in personnel.

Essentially, it's the worst of both worlds.

Glenn Geissinger's Points
Glenn Geissinger

- We have a $10 million budget shortfall.
-  Our reserves have dropped from $48 to $28 and now, to $10 million.
- $12 million in capital improvements are needed at Gracedale.
- Now might be a good time to borrow because money is cheap.
- He agrees that the County needs to reduce sick days and change labor contracts so that the current wage and benefit structure is kept in place or reduced.
- If the County's health benefit plan is a "Cadillac plan," it will pay an excise tax of  $9.3 million tax in 2018. By 2023, it will be $60 million. Nobody really knows if the health care plan is a Cadillac plan, although the County's health plan administrator (Blue Cross) says it is.

43 comments:

Bill Coker said...

Two issues are obvious here. 1. Gracedale should have been sold when the county had the chance. No patients would have been displaced and a whole lot of money would have been saved on salaries and benefits. Not to mention the cash windfall from the sale. 2. Of course the county has a Cadillac health plan. What government organization doesn't?

Anonymous said...

Gracedale should go on the market now even for less money.

Anonymous said...

Stop blaming Gracedale for the past Administrations fiscal mismanagement. The voters demanded the county keep Gracedale. They heard all the propaganda from Angle, Stoffa three media saying dump it and they voted to keep it. End of story. Might as well blame Obama.
Suck it up cupcakes!

Anonymous said...

It's certainly a Cadillac plan. It also covers men and old people in the event they become pregnant. Congress really should have read that bill.

Gracedale is the problem. I blame the hateful liars who terrified frail seniors, telling them they'd be thrown on the street. This was NEVER a possibility and they've NEVER retracted this horrible scare tactic. Gracedale is the problem. It's time for the union to take more, very deep cuts and layoffs. They stood silent while the goons foisted their frightening lie. Time to pay for your sins. If the place closes, you'll get what you deserve and patients will get demonstrably BETTER care.

Anonymous said...

sounds like these two are actually making sense.

Anonymous said...

Yes Gracedale is the reason for the county financial problems but we need to place the blame on Harrisburg. Reimbursement rates have been flat because of changes made to the welfare code during the Rendell administration. That's when the problems started and we have seen counties across the state selling since then. What it would take to turn Gracedale's finances around is a State Senator (yes I'm looking at you Lisa) with some clout to amend the welfare code during next year's state budget. Amazing how Pat Browne can slip something into the fiscal code on a midnight in July to make his friends rich but does nothing for the poor and sick in county homes Cedarbrook and Gracedale.

Anonymous said...

Way to go Bernie. You may not be for balancing the budget on the backs of the employees but you never seem to put the blame for the county's mess at the feet of the people who caused the mess.
Don't you remember the "swaption" instituted by Reibman and then mismanaged by STOFFA. 26 million in the shitter.
What about the 45 million cadillac 911 plan Brackbill implemented and then Reibman screwed up and got sued for another 10 million.
The mishandling of the Gracedale issue by failing to educate the voter on the short comings of owning your own nursing home.
Reibman's 100 million dollar bond issue where he doled the money out to municipalities so he could gain votes.
Last but not least, a screwed up group of County Council idiots who mismanaged the County's finance's.
Now in order to straighten out the County's financial mess, lets blame the county workers. Lets make cuts and create hardships on them and their families not to mention what happens to the County taxpayers who depend on the services they provide.
Don't you remember the Reibman cuts and the backlogs of work. Title searchers not being able to do their jobs because all the documents weren't filed and up to date?
Yep, go ahead. Screw the little guy and then ask him to be a good loyal employee. Hopefully these County employees will look elsewhere for a secure job before its too late.

Anonymous said...

As a county employee, I wish I could just walk away and go somewhere else but I am 56 years old and that is not so easy. I am too young to retire, I am caring for elderly parents, and I do not have a Cadallac Health Insurance plan, and I have spoken to Blue Cross as well and have been told that, So county council and Mr. Brown better stop lying to us and trying to put fear into everyone.

Anonymous said...

this is seeking a solution to problem ? seriously , how could they even consider hurting the employee's , it just makes me want to hurl. the only people they are taking care of are themselves,have they taken a look at the wages here ? furthermore having a 500.00 deductible is not having a Cadillac plan and they know it any increase would create hardships on the employees , i'm disgusted with this entire administration...zero confidence!

Anonymous said...

8:23,

It's OK if you get pregnant, too. It's covered!

Anonymous said...

You county goldbricks who supported it should really read up on Obamacare to understand what a Cadillac plan is. You've got one. Either suck it up, or move to a Yugo plan. Elections have consequences and you brought this on yourselves. Liberalism works great until you run out of other people's money. Taxpayers are going to pay for your fantasy in higher taxes. You'll be making sacrifices too. Life is tough. Wear a cup.

Anonymous said...

@ 10:19 is that a bad thing? I do pay for my health care ...I should be covered. my goodness what else do you begrudge employees or don't you work for a living?

Anonymous said...

PEOPLE who work for a living earn a paycheck ! get over yourself everyone has it tough ...including all of us ... all we want is fair treatment!

Anonymous said...

maybe we should all go on the welfare rolls would that be better ? the way things are looking we might end up there anyway !

Bernie O'Hare said...

"As a county employee, I wish I could just walk away and go somewhere else but I am 56 years old and that is not so easy."

As uncertain as your world is, it is even more uncertain in the private sector. Stay the course. This storm will hopefully pass. I hope 5 Council members and the Exec have the sense to do what is right by the worker and the taxpayer/

Anonymous said...

So, let me get this straight. Mr. Brown and his croonies on county council want to balance next years budget on the backs of the county's workforce rather than raising taxes and or cutting back on contracted services that are not needed. Mr. Brown needs a reality check if he thinks the county can run efficently. My sources tells me the Jail is running 18 people short since he refuses to hire anyone not to mention other departments. How safe is that?? I hate to see what the county government is going to look like in 3 years. Hopefully County council will see through this ploy to destroy what Mr. Stoffa has accoumplised and vote down any labor cuts. County workers have taken increases in healthcare over the last few years without seeing an increase in pay. Is it 2017 yet??

Anonymous said...

Just wait until 2015 election cycle. If they get just one more Tea-Bagger or another John Birch Society member on council you won't have to worry about your job. It will be outsourced to a firm that pays minimum wage and no benefits.

Anonymous said...

1:05 It's happening everyday in the private sector. It needs to happen in the public employee sector as well then the cry babies might open their eyes.

Anonymous said...

people in the private sector make at 3x the amount of public employee!

Bernie O'Hare said...

They have less security, fewer benefits, but do tend to make much more money for equivalent work.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"Just wait until 2015 election cycle. If they get just one more Tea-Bagger or another John Birch Society member on council you won't have to worry about your job. It will be outsourced to a firm that pays minimum wage and no benefits."

I will reserve judgment until I see what kind of budget is porposed and how Council members react.

Instead of getting caught up with goofy residency ordinances and $10,000 conrtract limits, Council members need to start paying attention to the bigger picture.

Phillips has certainly done so, more than the other Council members, but hius statements about personnel are scary.

Anonymous said...

they want to treat the county worker like a private sector worker , but don't want to pay the wages!

Bernie O'Hare said...

We'll have a good notion what the admin is planning when we see the budget. My hope is that it includes a taxx hike that has been needed for two years. Do it now. This is the year. Then get tough.

Anonymous said...

"Phillips has certainly done so, more than the other Council members, but hius statements about personnel are scary."

So are his statements about a tax increase. Thanks Gracedale goons. You've delivered higher taxes and fewer services in order to pay for a county-funded jobs program.

Anonymous said...

"This was NEVER a possibility and they've NEVER retracted this horrible scare tactic"

Ronnie, John, you can keep shouting this till the cows come home. The real reality was and is that once Gracedale was sold the policy would be, "out of sight out of mind". The horrible lies were terrible I remember both the Admisntration and Angle getting more and more desperate, using terms like "Hell-hole" and "rat-hole" to describe the facility.
Once in private hands the Islamic owned company that was buying it would have done as they wished and the county would turn their heads the other way.

Fortunately the voters saw through the grand deceptions. People unafraid of Stoffa and Angles goon like methods made the case and we saved Gracedale.

I notice your anger at waste does not extend to a new building with a thirty year "triple-net" lease that costs over a million dollars a year with a built-in 2.5% increase every year. Wonder were the money for Human Services sis really going?

Ronnie, John you are gone now we must pick up the pieces. Please just fade away. You have done enough harm.

Bernie O'Hare said...

These are just outright lies. Neither Angle nor Stoffa referred to Gracedale as a "rat-hole" or "hell-hole." That was Chris Miller, an extremist who was not speaking for anyone but himself, thank God.

As for the claim that an Islamic company was buying the facility, that should be irrelevant. But in fact, the facility owners are Jewish.

That battle is over. The people decided to keep Gracedale. Now they must pay for your lies, as you've just demonstated.

Anonymous said...

Shall we pray for wisdom?

Anonymous said...

These so called conservatives just got elected and already want to raise taxes. What else is now. I can't believe men that campaigned on small government are the first to scream spend more money raise taxes.

Anonymous said...

Most county employees are also the taxpayers of Northampton County. So if this insurance plan goes as stated not only will workers take a hit with higher insurance, they will also see no pay raise, and as a taxpayer see a possible tax hike. For those who want county employees to "suck it up", come do their jobs at the pay rate they receive. And next time you receive any help from a county program, remember the people providing that service to you are the same ones you told to suck it up.

Anonymous said...

County jobs are doled out to insiders and connected people. The so-called tests that are given are not even used. They hire whoever they want.

Look at the huge pay raise Ferraro's daughter just got. Stop whining you have a job, benefits and a great pension.
Suck it up!

Anonymous said...

Most of the employees aren't bringing home the salaries you reference and sure as hell have never seen a pay raise like that. And you are incorrect again because most did take that test you speak of. You can say suck it up all you want but you are misinformed and really don't understand. The one person you reference doesn't represent the majority of the county workforce. And when your taxes go up, don't whine about how he broke his campaign promises. Suck it up cupcake.

Anonymous said...

People have taken county tests and scored in the top three. However, people with lower scores were hired. The system is a game and people with connections are picked. It has been known for years the county's hiring system is a joke.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Not quite sure what your comment has to do with next year'S budget. Also, I'd like you to list specific examples of your claim. It should be a simple matter to check .

Anonymous said...

The Northampton County Prison under Joe Onembo and the Sheriff's Department under Dumideo were notorious for hiring friends and friends of friends. The rules have been circumvented and no one is paying the price. Council refuses to get involved in these issues. Just ask them?

Anonymous said...

By the way, did you ever hear of "Gawlick". Just wondering

Anonymous said...

All hiring must go through HR and I highly doubt that they bend the rules for the benefit of the Sheriff or DOC. In the distant past maybe but not recently.

Bernie O'Hare said...

9:59, You are not spelling those names properly, which makes me think you have no direct knowledge. Also, Gawlick was an exempt employee. It's pretty clear you don't really know what you are talking about, and should not have stated what you did bc you are misinformed.

Anonymous said...

Just STOP! Blame solves nothing. Enough of this already. Solve the problems and work it out! That is why these people were elected. Your agenda and mine mean little now. hindsight is useless. Deal with the here and now. No cheese for your whine!

Anonymous said...

I don't think it's fair that the workers are not getting the raises that they deserve especially with our benefits going up...we make less now then when we started! You can't up our benefits cost and not up our salaries! Some of us are being paid so little we actually qualify for county assistance! So sad! If there's any cuts to be made cut PR that can't even spell...76,000ish? Let alone rumor has it they get all out of pocket expenses reimbured for gas...food...for everyday things...wth is that?! Yet we get nothing..,.Brown expects a lot for nothing from the workers...smh he'll never see another term...is it 2017 yet??

Anonymous said...

I say county workers should call on the big rat...STRIKE!!

Anonymous said...

Brown made it very clear in his campaign mailers that we could count on him to LOWER our taxes now he is going to increase them! what gives, we were lied to. He told us what we wanted to here and we bought it

Anonymous said...

how about trying to make money instead of saving money? they ended the prison academy for new hires which doens't really save much money because then they have to pay to send those to the state academy. what they should be doing is running the academy year round and invite other counties to use our facility for training. this would bring money into the county. but they rather save a couple dollars than make some.

Anonymous said...

I agree with 5:18. I was told that recently the captain at the jail who had been there for a mere 5 years was promoted over people who had over 20yrs of experience becuase he was a minority and was snitch. I was shocked to hear about this. Unfortunately this goes on not only in the public sector but the private sector as well. No way around it.