Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Williamson County Employees Association Seeks Obfuscation

Apparently having grown tired of the ad hominem attacks on the women of the Commissioners Court, members of the Williamson County Employees Association have launched a new tactic: obfuscation. WCEA's latest mantra is that they received a pay cut last year, therefore we taxpayers should pay higher rates so that County Employees can have a pay raise. This is patently false.

The fact is that county employees have not received any pay cuts, on the contrary, pay increases prior to 2007 averaged 5% each year, and since 2007 have averaged 3.13%. The WCEA is basing this 'pay cut' argument on the increase in health insurance premiums.

What Royger Harris and the WCEA do not mention is that health insurance premiums have increased dramatically for all Americans. According to a recent study by Families USA, between 2000 and 2007 family health insurance premiums in Texas "rose 86.8%, while median earnings rose by only 15%." Unfortunately, the Families USA study lumps public and private sector workers together, hence the illusory 15% increase. Like government workers, private sector workers are also coping with insurance premium increases, but unlike county salaries, private sector pay, which is tied to economic reality, has steadily decreased.

The WCEA also very carefully avoids mention of county retirement pensions. Williamson County participates in the TCDRS, or Texas County and District Retirement System, and provides a whopping 250% match at retirement. In providing this generous tax-payer-funded contribution, Wilco is among 22 of 252 Texas Counties matching at this maximum rate, placing Williamson County in the top 8.73% of Texas counties. When local governments in other states are now on the brink of bankruptcy due to guaranteed government employee pensions,we understand why the WCEA would steer clear of this topic.

The WCEA demands for property tax increases so that county employees can enjoy a pay raise, while the rest of the nation is coping with high unemployment, higher living/healthcare costs, and actual pay decreases, is unconscionable. Furthermore, the WCEA social media and blogsite activity that permits anonymous personal attacks on the women of the Commissioners Court (often posted Monday-Friday between the hours of 8 and 5) is cowardly and detracts from their credibility. Perhaps these folks ought to take note of the majority of county workers who have not joined WCEA, and are doing the jobs we the tax-payers hired them to do.


GinaK said...

As a conservative myself I can understand fiscal responsibility, limited government and reduced taxes, however after working for Williamson County for close to 10 years I cannot understand how not adopting the tax rate when WC is one of the fastest growing communties in the nation is the answear and still expect the same or better level of service. Would it be nice to see a merit raise for service to the county heck yes do I understand and accept not getting one yes! However a COLA raise would be nice to stay with growing inflation, bills and all around increase in day to day items. My only sticking point in this whole Comissioners vs. Workers is word bashing "Whopping 250% match" Does Wc have great retirement YES, that is the reason I decided to make a long range commitment and put loyal years of service here, that is the reason WC has such a low turnover rate. I think that if the retirement is messed with that there is going to be a large amount of workers leaving to find greener pastures, From a budget view it would be like out sourcing at Dell, cut loyal employee to hire 4 workers in another country for 1/4 pay you get what you pay for!

Project Editor said...

Actually, Commissioner Lisa Birkman posts to her blog during the workday (she draws a county check) without stating that her views do not reflect the official position of Williamson County. She'll need to change that when the employee manual takes effect on October 1, 2010, and live by the restrictions imposed on county employees, even if those restrictions impose on First Amendment rights.

jflores said...

@GinaK ... "a COLA raise would be nice..." The problem is that you work for the government. There is a great responsibility that comes with the ability to point a gun at the people to get what you want. If the revenue is decreasing in your business and you try to restructure or cut costs, but still come up short, it's tough cookies, and your employees may just ditch you. But, government employees pressure their elected bosses to shake down the taxpayers who themselves are hurting from the economic situation. It's just not fair, and it's not right.