County Budget Passes w/Raises… Plus Two Amendments

County Budget Passes with Raises for All Employees, Plus Two Amendmentsnicholas-schrock-allstate

(Crystal A. Proxmire, Sept. 19, 2014)

The Oakland County Board of Commissioners unanimously approved a budget through 2017 which included a series of raises for all County employees, and a couple of last minute amendments.

An easy bipartisan pass was an amendment to create a line item in the budget for Emergency Relief, and an allocation of $300,000 for that purpose. “This came about because we had all that damage from the flood,” said Republican Bill Dwyer of Farmington Hills. “So this will be here for emergencies like that, or for terrorism. MBREW draft oneYou know we’ve got ISIS out there now, and constant threats to our security. You never know what could happen.” The money gets earmarked from the General Fund, which has a balance of approximately $243 million.

The other amendment gives County Commissioners the option to opt out of the pay raises that all employees are given in this budget. The pay raise is across the board, with a 3% increase in 2015, a 2% increase in 2016 and a 1% increase in 2017, bringing levels back up to one percent higher than what they were in 2009 when employees had their pay cut in order to accommodate the budget. All around Commissioners agreed that employees deserved to have their pay restored, but some Commissioners, led by Republican John Scott of Waterford, did not want their own pay to be increased. Scott proposed an amendment that would cut the Commission out of the pay restoration. That amendment failed, but an amendment giving elected officials the option of opting out of the increases passed.

One of the opponents of the raise for Commissioners was Republican Philip Weipert of South Lyon. “I see this as a public service,” Weipert said. “I don’t need a raise.” Weipert said he would not be accepting the pay keith dalton adincrease. When asked why he did not just do it for free, Weipert explained that being a Commission was at least a part time, if not full time, job. “People don’t realize how much work is involved. There are probably over 100 meetings I go to in a year that are at least partially related [to being on the board, plus another 100 things you to that are politically related,” he said. “I serve of the personnel appeal board, for example, and some of those meetings are five hours long… I’m driving ten hours a week, answering emails, being there to serve the people. There’s a seed030_cynthia_douglaslot more to it than people realize. But I am happy with the pay that I get. The employees for the county, who don’t have other jobs and who made that sacrifice a few years back, they’re the ones who deserve a raise, not me.”

Democrat Helaine Zack of Huntington Woods agreed that it was time to approve raises for all employees, including Commissioners. “It already is a part time wage,” she said. “But for some of us who give their all it can be a full time job. I represent five communities. That means there is more work, and more events to go to, than someone who has only one or two communities.” Zack added that for all Oakland County employees the raise was “a long time coming.”

“They have made the sacrifice over the past few years,” she said. “And on top of it, it’s an economic development issue. If we want to attract the best talent, we need to have competitive compensation.”

Also included in the budget is an increase in the tuition reimbursement programs for employees, money to increase security at County buildings, and restoring a Judgeship position at the Sixth Circuit Court.

Oakland County’s budget, along with other financial information, is available online at http://www.oakgov.com/exec/Pages/budget/default.aspx.

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