Like his Feb. 5, 2010, letter to the Editor, Lynn Muzzy’s Oct. 8 letter, “County salary hikes,” trots out more nuanced or misleading statements. Again he cites Douglas County’s recreation program. It provides valuable, well-attended programs for school-aged youth – especially in summer – but also adults and seniors, including the senior center in Gardnerville.
From his review of transparentnevada.com he alleges that in fiscal year 2009 there were 53 Douglas County recreation employees. His first error is inferring that they are all different employees, maybe all full time. Actually, some employees left during the fiscal year, and if replacements were hired the positions thereby are double counted.
Recreation programs are loaded with part-time, summer and special event workers. Roughly half the positions showed a full year cost ranging from $320 to under $20,000 where the wage range was a “whopping” $8 – $19 per hour. Most positions include legally-required “benefits” such as retirement and insurances such as health, injury and workers’ compensation.
Mr. Muzzy’s second error derives from his renewed criticism of the compensation of the Recreation Superintendent position, the head administrator. His qualifications and length of service put him at the top of the position pay scale. Quoting Muzzy, “the top eight employees in [recreation] – led by a superintendent recreation at $120,000 per year – got annual increases of about $5,000 each.”
In reality the superintendent’s base amount was $86,028 in FY 2008 and FY 2009, about what an intelligent, low-end, experienced full-time private consultant would receive although the consultant could claim work expenses against taxes. The difference between $120,000 and $86,028 is essentially accumulated sick time that may or may not be paid, vacation time that may be carried forward each year, and legally-required insurances and retirement contributions. For the remaining top eight employees cited, following are the base amount changes in 2009 from 2008: $0, $900, $0, $2,500, $20,000, minus $4,500 and $2,200. The increases or decrease are not spelled out in transparentnevada.com. So what are the “annual increases” about? Possibly, as in many private sector jobs, merit, ascending pay with longevity, overtime, or incentives.
Large Nevada governmental units have been restraining wages and curbing labor costs. Examples of impact on current and retired employees include re-negotiated contracts for local and county governments (state government prohibits collective bargaining), furloughs, job cuts, wage reductions, higher insurance premiums, higher co-pays and deductibles, and reduced or eliminated medical coverages. Watch for more of this in coming budget sessions.