The Placer County Board of Supervisors agreed Tuesday to implement the terms outlined in a Last, Best and Final Offer made recently to the Placer Public Employees Organization, a labor group that represents more than 1,800 county employees.
The vote was 4-1, with District 5 Supervisor Jennifer Montgomery voting no.
Last month, Placer County declared an impasse in contract negotiations with the PPEO.
The Last, Best and Final Offer defined the county’s position on key issues.
The new provisions maintain salary, pension and other benefits for active employees at their current levels; however PPEO members are being asked to shoulder some additional costs for individual and family health care coverage and pension benefits.
In separate actions, supervisors also adjusted the compensation and benefits of elected department heads, management, safety management and confidential employees, and unclassified (non-management) employees. The health and dental adjustments are consistent with those adopted for PPEO employees. A suspension on merit pay increases for management employees also will remain in place.
Placer County will continue to pay the bulk of health care and pension costs for all employees.
“This was not done lightly by the Board, however, having employees pick up larger shares will help keep this year’s budget balanced while providing long-term savings needed to ensure that the cost of employee benefits can be sustained in future years,” explained County Executive Officer Thomas M. Miller.
Key points in the PPEO contract include:
- The contributions most PPEO employees make to their pensions will increase from 1 to 2 percent of their salaries. Placer County will continue to make contributions equal to 21.157 percent of salaries. The county also is seeking increased pension contributions by the county’s other employee groups.
- The County will pay 80 percent of the cost for health care for employees and their dependents, with the employees picking up the remaining 20 percent. Currently, active employees pay 10 percent. In keeping with CalPERS rules, which require that retirees and active employees receive equal benefits, retirees will pay 20 percent also.
- A two-tier pension system will be established under which future county employees will receive a slightly lesser pension benefit than existing employees, calculated over the last three years of employment, instead of the current one highest year of compensation.
Last year’s agreement with PPEO included 12 days of mandatory time off (MTO), which cost employees approximately five percent of their wages. Employee costs for this year’s contract are expected to range from approximately two to five percent.
“Placer County’s financial position has remained strong during these tough economic times because the Board of Supervisors continues to plan for long-term economic stability while providing high-quality services to the public and preserving the county’s employee base,” CEO Miller said. “While many other counties and cities in the region have experienced large-scale layoffs, Placer County has found it necessary to lay off only about 15 individuals over the last two and a half years, and those layoffs were related to decreased land development permits.
“Keeping costs under control is critical, because the economic slowdown and state budget crisis continue to take a heavy toll on Placer County and other local governments across California. The items in the Last, Best and Final Offer reflect meaningful and modest cost-sharing for employee benefits, and serve to reduce the County’s future liability for pension and health care expenses. These measures are required to maximize our future resources so the County can continue its mission of providing critical public services.”
The County’s labor agreements with PPEO expired on June 30, 2010. The PPEO represents about 75 percent of the county workforce.