|NorCo Council on the bench|
|AFSCME agent Justus James|
"Is it the employees' fault that $62 million in the reserve fund went magically away?" he asked. He said that when Brown stated that the county worker is its most important asset, he had "hope for a new day." But instead, he's doing more than balancing his budget on the back of the employee, "We just got kicked in the tailbone. ... The employee can no longer afford to pay for the mistakes you've made."
One of the more disturbing speakers was Stacy [last name withheld], a 20-year County employee who has seen her income reduced every year since 2009. She's a single mother, drives a 13 year old truck, has no money to buy a newer car, and for the past year, has been forced to go to a food bank and stand in line for hours because she has no money to go grocery shopping, Her kids eat the old food from Giant.
|Tabatha Gartner warns of an exodus|
Shirley [last name withheld] works in the Revenue Office assisting delinquent taxpayers in making payment arrangements. She noted that Executive Brown had the money for a public relations consultant and other no-bid contracts, "but the county doesn't have money when it comes to us."
Her office is so short-staffed that she was recently forced to work alone. She was nervous and suddenly began shaking and decided she needed to leave for the day. Her Supervisor told her she would need a doctor's excuse, so she went to one who ordered her to stay home several days instead of the afternoon she intended to take off.
"We're understaffed, underpaid, and now, I'm drugged to work here," she complained.
Tabatha Gartner warned these health plan changes will lead to an exodus from Human Services, creating a need for new staff that has to be trained, which will result in a decline of service and lawsuits." It's like firing the entire coaching staff and expecting the team to have a winning season," she observed.
After hearing from both workers and Brown, Peg Ferraro suggested that there be meetings in smaller groups to see if management and employee can come to some middle ground.
""I believe in my heart we should leave everything alone," said Lamont McClure, especially after Bob Werner pointed to research showing the County's health plan falls below the level needed to be considered a Cadillac plan. McClure was also disturbed that Executive Brown would impose these changes while refusing to discuss raises or other benefits. Brown responded that the County's health care plan will become a Cadillac plan by 2018 at its current rate of spending.
If that happens, and no changes are made, the County will be forced to pay a $9.3 million excise tax.
Ken Kraft, in response to several pleas from workers, noted that Council has no authority to prevent Brown from making changes to his health plan. But he added that they do have authority over the budges, which will be introduced next month.