Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Raises? What Raises?

Total expenses for fiscal year 2011 increased by approximately $11,374,000 (8.96%) when compared to fiscal year 2010. This increase is predominately due to increases in salaries and employee benefits.
Those sentences are from the 2011 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR) for Richardson. I'm still trying to figure out where the city thought the money for those employee raises was going to come from. But even more, what raises are we even talking about?

After the jump, following the money.

Last July, at the start of its annual budget retreat, the city council heard the city manager propose no compensation adjustment for employees in the 2011-2012 budget. Then, at the very end of the retreat, late-breaking news forecast that property valuations were going to come in higher than expected. Mayor Bob Townsend then indicated that he wanted city employees to get a raise. Sure enough, in the final budget proposal, there was a raise for city employees, bumping the budget for personal services up by $2.1 million.

Is that the raise that caused expenses, as reported in the 2011 CAFR, to increase by $11.3 million? Surely not, for two reasons. First, the $2.1 million increase budgeted is nowhere near the $11.3 million actual increase reported in the CAFR. But more important, the $2.1 million is for this year's budget, fiscal 2012. The $11.3 million increase is for last year's actuals, fiscal 2011. Apples and oranges.

So, was there a much bigger raise granted city employees in fiscal 2011 that led to the $11.3 million increase in salaries? If so, then why, last summer, did the city staff spend an hour selling the city council on the need to increase the fiscal 2012 budget $2.1 million for raises?

I'm sorry if you read this far, expecting me to explain the conundrum. I can't. I'm mystified about the root of those "increases in salaries and employee benefits" in fiscal year 2011.

Headspinningly yours,
The Wheel


Nathan Morgan said...

Mark, this is a prime example of how Richardson's reports on public finance are misleading. Who knows what twisted tale these words actually represent? To be sure, where there is deception, there is misdeeds. It is up to curious citizens like we to dig up the real story. Keep asking questions and you will realize why the scoundrels throw around the phrase "gotcha gang".

Mark Steger said...

"Many journalists have fallen for the conspiracy theory of government. I do assure you that they would produce more accurate work if they adhered to the cock-up theory."
—Sir Bernard Ingham

dc-tm said...

Wasn't it last year Keffler converter all of those 100 plus car allowances? You know, all those city employees who were already at the top of their pay-grades and a car allowance was the only way to give them more money?

Mark Steger said...

dc-tm, to make that case, you'd have to show that those car allowances added up to $11 million or maybe that the allowances *increased* by $11 million in 2011. Not likely.

dc-tm said...

Ok, that was sarcastic of me and I will use less of it this time and more directly provide an answer on where that $11.4 million figure came from.

Car allowances didn't change the net. They were already being paid and the conversion to salaries didn't really change the bottom line. Car allowances as a replacement for wages went to about 138 employees and totaled not quite $900k a year. Apparently about 81 people still get a car allowance. See Richardson-council-has-shift-in-thinking for more details.

Now as to the increase in spending in 2011 over 2010, see TotalExpenseChanges10-11.pdf. This information came from the 2010 and 2011 CAFRs and matches the $11.4 million increase. 57.89% of the increase is attributed to General Government, which I would guess is payroll and benefits. 13.27% is for public safety, which I wold guess, without digging into it, salary and benefit increases for the PD. Interest and fiscal charges, presumably for debt, increased 24.68%.

On a different subject dealing with the COR CAFR, do you find it odd that 87% of all G&A transfers would come from only the W&S and SW funds over the past 8 years?

Sassy Texan said...

It is the last 3 years we have had such 'windfalls' in ad valorem that brought salary raises. And there were more in the budget anyway. That was noticable with more than 50% of staff at the top of their pay grade. There is a good chart in the transparency section of the website.