The revised county budget for 2002-2003 that narrowly passed by a 3-2 commission vote Tuesday still leaves six Valencia County departments on 32-hour work weeks.
County Manager James Fernández estimated that the county “would need roughly $500,000” more in gross receipts in order to put those departments back on 40-hour weeks.
Commissioners Frank Pando and Alicia Aguilar voted against the 2002-03 budget of $16,575,248. Aguilar was opposed to the budget because expenditures were greater than expected receipts of $15,870,517.
Pando was against any budget that allowed some departments to work 40 hours while others remain trimmed to 32. Pando compared county employees to one big family and said you cannot give one child a candy bar and not the other, in reference to those departments still working 40-hour weeks.
Currently working shortened 32-hour weeks are the offices of thbe county manager, treasurer and clerk — including the bureau of elections, planning and zoning departments and the fire marshal. County commissioners have also had their salaries reduced, according to Fernández.
The bureau of elections will work 40-hour weeks for a period of approximately eight weeks prior to the November elections. County Clerk Tina Gallegos expressed concern that “our budgets have been cut the last two years.
“It makes me feel bad when I can’t provide an employee with the pay he deserves.”
Gallegos sought a salary increase for a computer technician who makes $7 an hour and who programs 96 voting machines. With employees still on 32 hours, the commissioners granted no salary increases on Tuesday. However, the director of animal control did receive a salary increase, which was granted according to a previous contract agreement.
Departmental employees working 40-hour weeks include all sheriff’s department personnel, animal control officers, and employees of the assessor’s office and the transfer station.
The county manager’s office has been working without an administrative secretary, and that position was left vacant in the new budget. An attempt to budget $13,440 from that unfilled position to give minimal salary increases to employees working 32 hours in the county manager’s office was voted down 3-2.
Vice Chairman Gary Daves, joined Commissioners Pando and Aguilar in voting against any pay increases for employees of the county manager’s office.
“It would have raised salaries for everybody except myself,” Fernández said after the meeting. “It would have increased their dollar rate but not the total salary expenditures.”
Members of the county manager’s office have been asked to work additional hours without pay on many occasions, according to Monica Mireles, administrative assistant and grants administrator. In return for their extra work, those employees were given compensatory time, Fernández explained.
“Monica has brought a lot of money into the county in the form of grants,” Fernández said. “It’s unfortunate that the commissioners did not approve it.” He said the minimal salary increases would not have increased overall spending.
In a previous meeting, the commission approved a proposal to give County Assessor Beverly Dominguez-Gonzales the auth-ority to bring some employees back to 40 hours by absorbing hours of employees who retired or resigned from her department.
Carol Anaya, human resources manager and part of the county manager’s office, pointed out that her department has had no members resign or retire. Therefore, the county manager’s office remains on 32 hours, as do other departments. Commission Chairman Al Padilla hopes that the situation can be re-evaluated in 2003 but noted the current difficult financial situation.
“We’re still under a very vigilant eye of the DFA (Department of Finance and Administration),” Padilla said. “There is a possibility we can bring them back to 40 hours next year.”
Three budget revisions that passed Tuesday included $20,000 to the Public Employ-ment Retirement Act, $20,000 for court security to purchase two metal detectors and $19,835 for the reserve fund for items that were invoiced in the previous year.