Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Mendocino County government engages in class warfare against county workers

Visit the Mend Mendocino campaign website [www.mendmendocino.org]

2013-08-27 "Mendocino County Families Fight Back Crippling Wage Cuts"
by SEIU1021 [http://www.seiu1021.org/2013/08/27/mendocino-county-families-fight-back-crippling-wage-cuts/]:
Mendocino County workers and residents took on the Board of Supervisors Tuesday morning, armed with research and facts to prove there is no financial reason for ongoing, crippling wage cuts to workers.
“When you talk about the “core structure” of your organization, it is the people, not upgrades to buildings, that help fix the economy,” said SEIU 1021 Researcher Meredith Staples. “It’s not one or the other. There is enough room in your proposed budget to build and improve infrastructure while also avoiding financial devastation to your workers.”
With only one days’ notice of the action, about 30 SEIU 1021 members and their allies filled one side of the Board of Supervisors’ chambers. The short-notice action was in response to a challenge by Supervisor John McCowan, who asked us to show him the money. Staples presented the Board with key financial information, and submitted it to the clerk for the record.
“These workers want to feed their families, keep dollars local and to be the solution to an economic recovery,” Staples said.
Workers have lost 10 percent of their take-home pay, and the county is demanding cuts again, even though there is a $12 million surplus and many county positions are paid for through federal funding.

The community impact -
That's why coalition of Mendocino workers, residents, community and business leaders — known as “Mend Mendocino” — is demanding that elected leaders fight against continued cuts to jobs and services to help Mendocino County families. As the county’s largest employer, many believe that Mendocino County has a responsibility to its workers to lead the way in the local economic recovery. The coalition's inaugural action included a food drive to benefit the Ukiah Food Bank.
As of 2012, the County had cut the number of people who administer social service programs that offer food stamps from 100 to a mere 20 positions. That created longer wait times and a delay and loss of service. Fifty percent of Mendocino County residents are eligible for food stamps or other assistance.
Last year, the County did not accept $2.5 million in federal funding that should have gone to food assistance programs like CALWorks, food stamps and to help pay for the administration of these services. A 15-percent spike in healthcare costs has prevented workers and their families from seeking the medical services they need.
The county has the largest surplus in its history, but county administrators continue to hide money from the taxpayers and cut deeper into jobs, programs and services.
Mendocino County’s Operating Budget for FY 2013-2014 relies on faulty assumptions about revenues and expenditures. That document would lead you to believe that the County is in an extremely vulnerable financial position. But we know that this isn’t the case.
Thanks to concessions, staff reductions by 30%, and other cost cutting policies implemented in the years prior, the 2012 fiscal year ended with a General Fund surplus of $12 million. Here are some financial facts, presented Tuesday:
* This figure of $12 million is cited in both the Comprehensive Annual Report (CAFR) and the latest Fitch report in February 2013. As the Fitch report states, “Net operating surpluses after transfers for 2012 were equal to 5.3% of general fund spending, raising unrestricted fund balance to 9.4% of spending ($12.4 million). Year-end cash balances also rose substantially, from $11.5 million in 2011 to $21 million in 2012.
*  However, the County’s proposed FY 2012-13 budget states that reserves were only $4,541, 741. Where did the other $7.5 million from FY2012 carry-over go?
* In the FY2013-14 budget, $1.7 million will be added to the reserves for a total of over $6 million, which is 12% of General Fund revenues. The Reserve policy is that the County should have in reserves between 5% and 15% of General Fund revenues.
County workers have started “Mend Mendocino,” a coalition of county workers, businessowners and families that believes all residents should have access to quality services, healthcare and affordable housing and most importantly — a government that works for all, not just a few.
Please log onto the web site, and sign the petition for a better future for workers and families in Mendocino County: www.mendmendocino.org

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