July 10, 2014 at 6:44 pm

Patterson to recommend 3% pay hike for Oakland County staff

Oakland County employees could see salary increases in the coming fiscal year as the county seeks to recruit new staffers to make up for an aging, and retiring, workforce.

County Executive L. Brooks Patterson plans to recommend a general increase of 3 percent in fiscal 2015, 2 percent for fiscal 2016, and 1 percent for fiscal 2017 when he delivers his annual budget recommendation to the board of commissioners Wednesday.

“During the past 10 years, Oakland County’s general salary increase has clearly been conservative and has lagged behind labor market increases and the consumer price index,” Patterson said in a statement. “With the need to recruit and retain, it is imperative that our ‘total compensation’ package be competitively positioned.”

The 3 percent raise for 2015, combined with a 2 percent raise for fiscal year 2014, would leave employee salaries 1 percent above 2009 levels. Full-time employee salaries were cut a total of 4 percent in fiscal years 2010 and 2011 during the recession.

Oakland County did not raise salaries in 2012 or 2013, although employees did receive a bonus of $500 in the first quarter of fiscal year 2013.

Patterson also will recommend that employee annual tuition reimbursements rise from $2,400 to $4,200.

“As the ‘Baby Boomers’ retire from the county, more and more promotional opportunities become available and the tuition reimbursement program offers one way for employees to be ready to advance their careers,” Patterson said in the statement.

Once again, Patterson will tout the county’s budget, which is balanced beyond fiscal year 2017.

General fund revenue is estimated at $418.3 million for 2015; $422.4 million for 2016 and $425.4 million for 2017.

At the same time, the total budget for all funds amounts to $799.8 million in 2015, $806.4 million in 2016 and $808.6 million in 2017. The budget also is balanced for fiscal 2018, based on the county’s five-year outlook.

“It is long-range planning coupled with action that separates Oakland County from other counties in Michigan and the nation,” Patterson said in a statement. “We believe in thoughtful management, not crisis management.”

The budget presentation is scheduled for 7 p.m. in the board of commissioners auditorium, 1200 N. Telegraph in Pontiac.

Other budget recommendations will include capital and technology improvements to enhance security at county buildings and restoration of the 19th judgeship at Sixth Circuit Court. The state of Michigan provides funds for the judge, but the county provides support staff.

Health care costs will remain flat this year, but Patterson’s budget includes an annual increase of 6 percent for employee coverage in each of the next three fiscal years as a hedge against what he says will be increasing costs.

Patterson also will tout the increase in county-wide assessed property values. For fiscal year, 2014, values are up 7.11 percent, which translates into a 1.65 percent increase in taxable value for the county. The county’s equalization department is forecasting taxable value will increase each year through 2017.

To view Patterson’s complete budget recommendation, go to www.oakgov.com/fiscal.

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