Paso Robles is the Taj Mahal and taxpayers are paying dearly

April 30, 2012


While our schools are in dire need and our kids can only go to school three days a week in May because there is no money to pay teachers, the city of Paso Robles continues to be oblivious to their needs.

Teachers have been paying for school supplies out of their own pockets for years for our kids. We have eliminated school recreational programs and closed our swimming pool. Our kids need an education. We need teachers to be at work teaching them. They are the future of Paso Robles. City officials turn a blind eye on our schools and their education.

They would rather spend money and studies on the beautification of Paso Robles. They want to make our city another Napa Valley. They do not care about our kids, our citizens and our residents.

There is a sharp contrast as to what the city is doing and what the schools are being forced to do. The money spent to make this city beautiful for tourists should have been given to our schools instead. We should have helped them, not ignore them.

I have spent the last couple of weeks doing my own audit on where my tax dollars are going.  The more I find out, the more agitated I get. Our tax dollars are going directly into the city of Paso Robles to pay for the ultra-fine salaries and benefits of its employees. I am not talking about our Police, Fire, or Emergency Services. I am talking about city employees and the Paso Robles City Employees Association only.

Did You Know?

The city has job descriptions that have a minimum and a maximum salary. I looked at the information on the State Controller’s Office that Paso Robles submitted on salaries paid. Based on what happened in the city of Bell, all California cities had to submit salaries paid to city employees in 2010. In addition, I used the data on Resolution 11-119 (Adopted September 2011) to gather my information. I will address the salaries and issues at the end of this letter.

City employees retire at age 55.

They received 100 percent health, dental and vision 100 percent for the employee, but now resolution 11-119 changed a few benefits.

Medical — employees with one dependent the city pays $805.53 and employee will pay $114.41. Family Plan, city will pay $1141.30 and the employee will pay $168.58.

Dental — The city pays 100 percent for employee. Family Plan City pays 93.63 and employees pay $6.92.

Vision –The city pays $14.96 Employees pay 0.

Resolution 11-119 now says for the term of this agreement, for both health and dental and vision insurance, the city will modify its maximum contribution by an amount equal to 100 percent of the employee only premium, and three quarters of premium increases for employee and dependents. Employees shall be responsible for the one quarter of any increases.

Upon retiring at age 55, the city pays a lifetime monthly salary to each employee of $500.00 for health benefits for all employees with 10 years or greater service. Resolution 11-119 changed that to be:

Employees with a hire date of Jan. 1, 2012 with at least 20 years of service will receive the $500.00 monthly payment only to the age of 65.

City employees receive 11 days of holiday pay per year and one extra day for their birthday just because it is “Their special day” making the total paid days 12 per year.

In addition during the term of this agreement only, employees shall be granted one additional floating holiday but the extra day off must be taken by June 30, 2012.

Deferred Compensation- All unit employees shall be eligible to participate. The city will match contributions to a maximum of $20.00 per pay period.

Stolen Property- If you use your own personal property at work and it gets stolen from city premises, no worries just fill out a form and the city will reimburse you for the stolen property.

Child Care- the city shall maintain in effect the existing discount child care program for the term of this agreement.

Bilingual Pay-  The city pays $100 per month to qualified employees who provide bilingual services.

Salaries –  Effective July 1, 2012 all deferred salaries/benefits increases by city employees since September  2008 will be paid.

Effective July 1, our city manager will receive a salary of $179,541. Here is a cost comparison from the city of San Jose California with a population of 958,789 versus the city of Paso Robles with a population of 30,000.

As I stated above, I did an audit on the salaries submitted by the City of Paso Robles. I now question the validity of the information sent to the State Controller’s Office.  Here is why.

1. Paso Robles reported salaries and benefits for five council members and one mayor.

2. Many of the positions are for professional managers I,II,III. When I question a salary on the data of professional manager lll, I was told I had it wrong. I should have looked at professional safety managers lll. There was no safety managers at all in the data sent to the state controllers office.

3. There are approximately 40 positions listed as recreation staff assistants l,ll, lll, or IV. These people didn’t make much money under salaries so I asked human resources who they were and were they really city employees. I also wanted to verify if we paid benefits to them. The employees are part time city employees who work less than 20 hours per week, and yes they do get benefits which are based on hours worked. There were no benefits listed for these people on the data that went to the state controller’s office.

Note to city, does the word temporary employee mean anything to you? You would not have to carry these employees on the books nor would you have to pay them any benefits if they were temporary. Why do we have almost 40 people working part time in the recreation department. When we cut all the recreation programs and closed the pool?

Minimum and maximum salary levels

Every job has a classification associated with it. The maximum is the most you can be paid for this job.

Professional manager II in recreation minimum $70,944, maximum $90,118, actual salary paid $98,233.

Maintenance supervisor- minimum $50,544, maximum $64,212, actual salary paid $106,173. When I asked about this I was told it could be overtime and benefits.

Again, these salaries are from 2010. With the four-year deferred salary adjustments effective  July 1, these salary ranges will go up. We, the taxpayers will continue to pay an alarming rate of increases every year for the same job being done. There has to be a ceiling on the amount of money we should be paying for these jobs. When you hit that ceiling, that is as far as you can go. Raising the maximums each year is not the answer.

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Be sure to look at the City Council agenda for tonight, especially the materials Mr. App has supplied for the city’s answer to the Grand Jury about vacation accural policies.

Mr. App is saying that there is a 1989 personnel policy for the city, but it hasn’t been updated and he doesn’t use it. He is saying that there is no written personnel policy for the city at all; he goes by each employee’s written contract and historical practice. In other words, he dictates the policy for each employee and this allows him to treat employees differently. Have you ever heard of a city not having a written personnel policy? I haven’t.

He also tells the city council that federal laws about “use it or lose it” policies on vacation means that employees get to accrue as much vacation as they want. This is not true. First of all, state law takes precedence and we go by Ca. state laws. The “use it or lose it” policy means that an employer is required to pay for unused vacation at termination of employment, but a company or employer can limit accrual of vacation ( allowed to carry over a certain number of hours of vacation each year and any extra hours are lost) if a written policy is in place.

I attended the CC meeting and have to say Mr. App gave a very good ‘song and dance’ answer.

Accruing vacation time to later be used as monies for after retirement goes against all rules for what

vacation time is or should be. Find me one private sector job that allows unlimited accrual of vacation time. ‘Use it or lose it’ is a fact of life in private companies. Can accrue X amount – maybe

120 hours (3 weeks) or so – then use it – get paid for it to keep it below some stated maximum – or lose it.

And just consider this – a city employee accrues vacation time for years at one salary, then conviently gets to cash that in many years later at a much higher salary. Example: employee X gets salary Y

upon being hired – accrues vacation time at salary Y and keeps on accruing vacation time. Keeps getting nice increases in salary (all city employees have gotten and will continue to get nice salary increases). Then after 15 or 20 years – retire and wah lah! – cash in several hundred hours of vacation time at a much higher salary that it was earned at. N-i-c-e!!!

Wonder how many hours Mr. App has accrued? So along with his extra fantastic retirement package, he could have another several thousand dollars in accrued vacation time.

And of course, the brilliant thespian, Mr. Strong, had to state that since this practice had been going on since 1989 it was OK – that there were other city policies that had not been updated since 1913!!


Seems to me accrued vacation should be public and reported each and evey month. If one doesn’t use the vacation in the year earned, and is acrrued, doesn’t this represent a liability that should be shown on the books. After all, if you fire them, the City has the obligation to pay them! If they quit, the City has the obligation to pay them. It should be shown as a liabilitywith public knowledge.

Don’t the citizens have a right to know how much money they owe to each employee?

On the radio, App said this money owed isn’t a problem. Because…….. He can just delay hiring the replacement for the time = to the accured vacation. Thereby saving the City the money.

Hmmm….. I KNOW I’m not the only one who wonders….. If we can do without that person for six months while we save that money due to acrued vacation, WHY DO WE HAVE THAT POSITION IN THE FIRST PLACE?!

App thinks only of two things: How to make his job easier, and what can he do to nurture emplyee loyalty to HIM! Anything else, such as the citizens, is really secondary.

Why else would he allow this policy (because it’s harder to say no and people will love you if you say yes)?

Why else would you pay ALL your direct reports the same maximum salary (because his salary is based on the high salaries his direct reports get and because the more you pay people the more they love you)?

Why would you promote a person to police chief, from within, that’s had NO outside experience…. ON and on and on.

Same story third first, App must go!!