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Grand Jury: County Benefits “Very Generous”

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Sonora, CA — Tuolumne County’s Grand Jury Report recommends changes in various areas, including the county’s employee benefits program.

It is one of ten areas that were investigated in the newly released 121 page document. The Grand Jury acknowledges that county employees have made “significant sacrifices” over the past few years. However, when examining the 2011-12 budget, it became apparent that benefits paid to Tuolumne County employees are “very generous.” In aggregate, for every dollar the county pays in salary or wage, it also pays over a dollar in benefits.

The report adds that, “County benefits are perhaps 100% to 150% higher than the private sector.” It noted that a 10 percent reduction in county benefits would result in $2.6 million in annual savings.

The Grand Jury recommends that the county come up with a plan to negotiate significant reductions in employee benefits. It also recommends that the county investigate the feasibility of converting to a 401K style plan for local governments and reduce its contributions. At a minimum, it recommends that the county require all employees to contribute to the employee share of PERS. Right now there are different tiers for different categories of employees.

In a separate category within the Grand Jury Report, it was very critical of “excessive compensation” paid to leaders of the Groveland Community Services District. The General Manager/District Engineer position receives two salaries totaling $220,000, including benefits. In addition, the Administrative/Finance Manager receives $130,000 including benefits. The Grand Jury recommends that the salaries be dropped so that they are at least comparable with other government heads in the region.

In addition, the Grand Jury report investigated things like the continuing deterioration of the Tuolumne County Jail.

For a link to the entire 121 page report, click here.