County commissioners eliminate 2010 cost of living for non-union employees - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

County commissioners eliminate 2010 cost of living for non-union employees

SPOKANE COUNTY, Wash. - As elected officials, department heads, and union leaders continue to meet and discuss concessions, the Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) has eliminated the 2010 Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) for non-represented employees. 

According to Board Chair Todd Mielke, these are difficult economic times and elected officials must lead by example. 

"Most people in our community are not getting raises in 2010. If anything, their salaries are being frozen or reduced, or they are being laid off. By skipping pay increases in 2010, we are hoping to save some jobs and continue providing essential services to the public," Mielke said.
 
For decades the county has extended the terms of union contracts to include non-represented employees and appointees.  However, with a projected $10.5 million budget shortfall in 2010, the BOCC called together department heads and elected officials yesterday afternoon to announce that regardless of any union concessions that might be made, non-represented employees will not receive a COLA next year. While the 2010 COLA is determined by the Consumer Price Index (CPI), there is also a guaranteed minimum of 2.5 percent.
 
The BOCC's action will affect 246 employees, saving the county approximately $500,000.  Spokane County employs nearly 2,100 people, but the remaining employees belong to various bargaining units. Any wage concessions involving those employees must be collectively bargained and agreed upon by those unions.

Other cost-cutting proposals that are being discussed include furloughs, reduced hours of operation, and layoffs. The Board of County Commissioners must approve a balanced budget by Tuesday, December 8, 2009.

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