Each council person and the mayor recognized that this was a necessary step. Our question is whether or not the reductions have the same impact on them as they have on city workers?
Having already reduced employees and cut services, the continued shortfall of revenues this year have prompted the city to ask each remaining staff member, either full- time or part-time, to cut their salary by 7.5 percent for 2010-2011 and again by the same percent in 2011-2012. This is a 15 percent reduction in salary from what they were making when they were hired. If no one agrees to this, up to 50 people could lose their jobs. Even if some do agree, layoffs could still happen.
This has a greater impact on the average city employee than a council member. The 15 percent reduction can mean, for example, $7,500 a year for a person making $50,000. Divide that by 12 months and it’s $625. That’s a car payment or two, a family’s car insurance, groceries for the month or a variety of other bills. Such a cut drastically affects their ability to meet expenses — much moreso than a council person who either has retirement benefits or another job that supplements their city income. A City Council member is entitled to $46,938 per year in fiscal year 2010, according to Nevada law. Most council members are now making a reduced salary of about $41,728 per year.
Make no mistake: Council members work very hard, as they essentially have two full-time jobs. We applaud the council members in taking this step and we would like to see them continue to be diligent in understanding the sacrifices they are asking their employees to make. However, there are a lot of people out there with no full-time jobs and to give up a part of a supplemental income makes this gesture come across as a token response to those who are living on a tiny or non-existent income.
The city of Sparks has dedicated employees and City Council, but the real concern is whether the council can effectively convince their employees that they too are sharing in the financial crisis that we are now in.
We think they can find a way.