The following is an update from the King County Coalition of Unions on the total compensation information session with the County:
This meeting was an opportunity for the County to make their case for the 2% “wage increase” proposal. Dwight Dively, the Budget Director from the King County Executive’s office met with the King County Coalition of Unions on December 12th to review the County’s budget forecast.
Dively began the presentation by outlining the sources that generate revenue for the General Fund. He shared with the group that 60% of the General Fund revenue comes primarily from property taxes and sales tax (the remainder comes from various contracts and other sources). He highlighted the challenges associated with the property tax revenue, because growth is constrained by law (limited to 1% growth per year); while sales tax grows at about 3% per year. The combined average long-term revenue growth rate, or to say it more simply, the amount that the County brings in each year grows by roughly 2.5% per year. This factor was in contrast to the General Fund’s expenditure rate, or how much they’re spending, which is 3.5% per year, resulting in a 1% difference, and a $36 million revenue shortfall for 2015/2016.
In other words, Dively’s message was that the County can’t keep up with their costs without changing something. Dively offered up three “generic” ways that the County could address the revenue shortfall: “Reduce the expenditure growth rate and add few or no new programs; increase revenue growth rate (requires ballot measures or State Legislative action); or continue to find ongoing adjustments (efficiencies or program reductions) every budget cycle equal to about $15-$20 million per biennium ($36 million for 2015/2016 due to uses of fund balances in 2014).” Dively did point out that while the 2015/2016 Budget will be “tough,” it is “nothing like [what the County faced in] 2010”. Coalition members asked good questions and the County discussed their long term strategy of a ballot measure and / or lobbying in Olympia to raise or remove the constraint on revenue from property taxes.
The second part of the presentation, led by King County Labor Negotiator Matt McCoy, broke out the total compensation of a King County employee receives by attributing dollar amounts to leave, retirement and other benefits. They’re calculations (based on a “typical” Coalition member) stated that retirement accounted for 10% of an employee’s total compensation, health benefits accounted for 18%, leave pay accounted for 12%, and salary accounted for 60%. In the example that the County provided, an employee’s regular pay is $51,516, while they’re total compensation, is actually $86,893.
The next bargaining session is set for January 7. The County will present their counter proposal to the Coalition, and the Coalition expects to provide a firm list of Total Compensation bargaining participants.