Supervisors approve $2.4 million handout to county workers
December 3, 2014
The San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors has unanimously approved a proposal to give county workers $1,000 each in what is described as a move to offset rising health care costs.
Each full-time county worker, including all five supervisors, will receive the full $1,000 payment, and part-time workers will get prorated amounts. The payments will cost the count about $2.4 million.
At Tuesday’s board of supervisors meeting, about ten members of the public spoke out against the idea, saying it amounted to a gift of public funds. County officials defended the payments by saying they completed the previous fiscal year with a $30 million surplus in the budget and that employees accepted pay cuts over the course of the recent recession.
The California Constitution forbids gifts of public funds by state or local agencies, except to orphans, abandoned children, families with a disabled unemployable father, the blind, handicapped or institutions serving them. It also prohibits governments from dispensing money without the public benefiting.
But, courts have several times deemed cash bonuses to long-term employees to be incentives to continue working for their respective agencies.
Prior to Tuesday’s hearing, County Counsel Rita Neal vetted the proposed expenditure before placing it on the agenda. Still, some members of the public are considering filing a lawsuit against the county for approving the payments.
A successful lawsuit could block the county controller from disbursing the funds or recover funds that are spent.