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Sunnyvale City Manager Agrees With Special Interest Watch

Here at Special Interest, we were shocked to learn that even the highly paid managers at City Hall now agree with the information presented here. In the City of Sunnyvale's 2009/2010 Budget Letter of Transmittal, (the second item in the City's Fiscal Year 2009/2010 Adopted and Resource Allocation Plan), the City Manager notes somberly:

"Total staff compensation accounts for 86% of the General Fund operating budget and has risen significantly. For example, over the past six years the cost per average public safety officer has risen 44% and the cost per average full-time non-sworn worker has risen 33%. The City’s ability to provide services at the level directed by City Council and expected by Sunnyvale’s residents is clearly in jeopardy of declining with the costs of compensation where they are now."

No doubt those who have lost their jobs in the last few years or who have suffered through the lowest period of raises in the private sector won't have much sympathy for 44% raises. Reading further, you find that the City Manager is now recomending one year with no raises:

"Therefore, as we evaluated strategies for realigning personnel costs with our new lower revenue base, it became evident that a reset of the salary base is necessary to begin realignment with our resources. This requires that all employee groups have one year with no salary increase within the next few years; this strategy has been incorporated into the General Fund Long-Term Plan. The timing is dependent on current labor contracts and negotiations, but the sooner the “zero year” is implemented, the sooner the City can achieve realignment. After the reset, long-term realignment will come by ensuring the total cost of employees stays within our means."

Let's just hope this one year with no salary increase is not like the last time they tried this. Those who may not know that several years ago the same thing was advertised, but while employees did indeed receive no salary increase for the year, they did receive substantial increases in their retirement benefits that more than compensated for the decrease in salary. We think that more than just one year's adjustment is needed. Based on comparable salary increases that have occurred in the private sector over the same period, at least 3 to 4 years of zero raises will be needed to bring City workers in parity with their taxpaying counterparts.

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Updated January 23, 2020 10:09 PM