Orange County Supervisor John Moorlach, a prominent public employee pension hawk, wants this year's employee compensation negotiations to result in cuts that tie total compensation to revenue.
He sent a letter to all county employees -- as well as major media outlets countywide -- asserting that the unions' compensation growth is at unsustainable levels. Moorlach cites statistics from the county budget office showing the average public employee compensation package -- including pension benefits and health insurance -- has grown by more than 17 percent over the past five years. (See the graph attached to this article, which he also included in his letter).
"In total, the Average Total Compensation across all of the County’s positions has grown by nearly $15,000 over the last four years, equivalent to a raise in total compensation of 17.2 percent," Moorlach said. "During this same timeframe, property tax revenue, which represents the overwhelming majority of our General Purpose Revenue, has grown scarcely more than 3 percent."
He goes on to say in the letter that employees should take salary and wage cuts, pay a greater percentage of their remaining wages to their retirement contribution and take cheaper health insurance.
"Going into fiscal year 2012-13, property tax revenues are expected to remain flat," Moorlach states. "Consequently, total compensation must remain flat. In order to achieve this goal, some forms of compensation will need to be reduced in order to counterbalance growth in other areas of compensation."
Moorlach said reductions won't need to be as drastic as at some other agencies, but will need to continue in future years.
"These reductions will not need to be at the levels seen in some of our peer counties or at the State (which is looking at a 5-percent reduction in 2012/13), but will need to be sufficient to offset the anticipated growth in other forms of compensation, like pension contribution and health benefits," he stated in his letter.
Read Patch.com in Orange County's 2011 four-part series dealing with public employee compensation and pensions: