Friday, December 19, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Fairfield to end furloughs, open City Hall 5 days a week

By
From page A1 | May 29, 2014 |

FAIRFIELD — The four years of employee furloughs that closed City Hall on Fridays conclude next month – a sign of better times in Fairfield, city officials say.

“It was something that had to be done,” Councilwoman Catherine Moy said of the furloughs. “It was a horrible decision for us to have to make.”

Ending the furloughs will cost the city about $2 million a year, said David White, assistant city manager.

Moy said problems they posed included long lines on Mondays to pay water bills and for other city services. She said the line could total more than 20 people and snake around the first floor to the elevators.

Bills can be paid online or by mail but some people prefer to make payments in person, the councilwoman said.

Mayor Harry Price also cited the wait to pay water bills as among issues the city faced with the furloughs.

“It’s been a major problem,” he said.

Contracts the City Council approved in 2013 provided for an end to the furloughs this year.

The Fairfield Employees’ Association agreed in 2010 to the furloughs, with 10 percent pay cuts that resulted in 36-hour weeks and no Friday work.

Details about when City Hall returns to a five-days-a-week schedule and hours of operation were not immediately available Wednesday. The first Friday in July is the Fourth of July.

Reach Ryan McCarthy at 427-6935 or rmccarthy@dailyrepublic.net.

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Discussion | 62 comments

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  • boomMay 29, 2014 - 12:30 am

    How about we save two million bucks and ONLY do online payments?

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  • ComplainerMay 29, 2014 - 1:47 pm

    Boom, you would think that would be the way to do it, but somewhere, somehow, in some manner someone will find a way to complain: I don't have a computer, I can't get a ride to the library to use one, I don't have any friends that will let me use theirs, etc. etc. I favor moving more city stuff to the internet, if it will help get things done.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • JagMay 29, 2014 - 2:06 pm

    You could even add a little computer slash box like Red Box where you can walk up and pay your bill in the mall or something. Would that box fall under the city union contract?

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • rlw895May 29, 2014 - 2:19 pm

    The City closed City Hall at the Mall, which was award-winning in its day. Your idea could be an award-winning replacement.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • General Fadi BasemMay 29, 2014 - 4:11 pm

    boom--I don't trust Moy with my credit card number. Is that reason enuff?

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • JagMay 29, 2014 - 4:59 pm

    how do you pay now by check? You do know your routing number and bank account number is on the bottom of your check, at least with a credit card you are protected against Moy fraud, Harry fraud Pam fraud

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • TheresaMay 29, 2014 - 3:00 am

    Oh too bad for the long lines on monday mornings!!! What's left for them to do the rest of the week? City could find better use of funds like public safety.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • 2realMay 29, 2014 - 5:19 am

    Moy, shut it!

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • CD BrooksMay 29, 2014 - 6:40 am

    I think this is good news for the employees that gave up something to save everyone's job. I do wonder however, what it will be like to add that extra day back to their schedule? It seems that nearly everyone has adjusted to the lesser income but working that extra day with one less to rest might be hard to get used to?

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Rick WoodMay 29, 2014 - 12:21 pm

    CD: That's what I was thinking too. After 4 years, the people left are the ones who kind of like it OR ones so invested with the City they weren't about to leave. That would probably have been me if I hadn't retired. My last day was like a week before furloughs started.

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  • General Fadi BasemMay 29, 2014 - 4:20 pm

    The rat escaping the sinking ship. Quite a picture.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • PornacMay 29, 2014 - 6:48 am

    I getting used to the potholes.

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  • JagMay 29, 2014 - 9:59 am

    So wait a minute, we have gone four years without this one day and now we need it back? Correct me if I am wrong but I think there is a picture of 7-11 on this bill as to say you can pay your bill here? We should be going to other way let’s give them Monday and Friday off

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Rick WoodMay 29, 2014 - 10:09 am

    First of all, most City employees don't work at City Hall, so focusing on that is what the public sees but misses most of the point. Here's a question for you: Is it more expensive, by the hour, to hire another employee or increase the hours of existing employees, assuming you can do it without overtime?

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • JagMay 29, 2014 - 10:46 am

    The cheapest way is to hire an temp agency you pay them $25 an hour and the city is done, No sick leave no pension, what they pay the employee is up to them, Oh wait they still have the pesky little thing called a union contract that we could save without it,

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Rick WoodMay 29, 2014 - 12:08 pm

    The City already contracts out a lot. It's so commonplace now, people hardly notice. The list is extensive. But that's off my original question. The answer is, if you want to increase service levels, it's far less expensive to add hours than hire more people. SO, if the City is ready now to start rebuilding service levels, the first thing to do is eliminate furloughs. Conversely, furloughs were and are not a very effective way to cut costs; they were a way to keep the workforce together (temporarily) until things got better. Four years is a long time to be on furloughs. I'm sure the City has lost a lot of good people who couldn't afford to be on them, to say nothing of the difficulty they created for recruitment.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • JagMay 29, 2014 - 12:31 pm

    I agree with you on it is cheaper to give your current employees more hours than to hire new employees just for pension and medical alone, I guess we disagree on if the city is ready to rebuild services don`t bring it back in house, an outside company can do it so much cheaper than city workers, YES I understand those workers don’t get all the goodies like a pension plane or two thirds paid medical but as a tax payer that is not my problem let’s put some of the big street repaving project out for bid and see what we get, by the way I know we just moved street sweeping over to Solano garbage but I think union city workers do everything else and if the city was to hire you would have a line from here to Vacaville trying to get them so I am sure you would have some great workers to choose from.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Rick WoodMay 29, 2014 - 12:41 pm

    Then what you're saying is end furloughs but also look to contract out more work. That latter part is a debate that has been going on for a long time and will continue, but I wouldn't do it with a backdrop of furloughs for the City employees.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • JagMay 29, 2014 - 12:57 pm

    sure bring them back give them 40 hours and turn around and tell the union you are now a business you and your workers need to compete on prices with outside companies and you will be awarded the jobs but if you cant then we as a city have to look in a different direction.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Rick WoodMay 29, 2014 - 2:26 pm

    That's been done elsewhere. I don't recommend it. It's better to just do a cost evaluation and contract out services where the City can't afford the expertise or quality is not a high priority. Contractors will rarely be as responsive or accountable as employees.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • JagMay 29, 2014 - 3:10 pm

    That is why we have contracts, courts and insurance policy that we make the contractor purchase,

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Another City EmployeeMay 29, 2014 - 6:14 pm

    Rick, guess you missed all the problems the city has had with the landscape contractors like True Green. And I never see a street sweeper anymore. Guess you get what you pay for, or not.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Rick WoodMay 29, 2014 - 11:29 pm

    ACE: When I said "people hardly notice," I meant contracting out doesn't raise eyebrows like it might have once and maybe should still.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • City EmployeeMay 29, 2014 - 11:53 am

    As a City Hall employee I will miss my Fridays off, but I will really enjoy getting the pay back that was taken. We are all expected to do the same amount of work in a shorter work week. There were also major staff cuts so you have had people doing the job of 3 people now for years. Employees are happy to get their pay back that they deserve. This isn't just about "water bills". That is such an insignificant issue that I am shocked that this article focuses on that.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • CD BrooksMay 29, 2014 - 12:04 pm

    City Employee, going to be cool getting a raise! Hope it's not too much an adjustment. Enjoy!

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Rick WoodMay 29, 2014 - 12:14 pm

    CD: You don't really get a raise. It's a quid pro quo: You work more time and are paid accordingly.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • CD BrooksMay 29, 2014 - 12:18 pm

    Rick Wood, intimately aware of the circumstance. I have a friend working there that is calling it a raise. Whatever works for people to return to a full salary..

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Rick WoodMay 29, 2014 - 12:35 pm

    CD: It certainly feels like a raise if you are doing the same work. But furloughs aren’t supposed to operate that way. They are based on a factory model of labor; if you aren’t there, the work isn’t being done. That model falls apart for a lot of service-level jobs. And for salaried (non-hourly) work, furloughs don’t apply at all. Salaried people are supposed to work whatever hours are necessary to get the work done. The exception, interestingly, are government salaried workers. In the public interest, they can be put on furloughs. But in that case, they become treated as hourly employees and become eligible for overtime.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Another City EmployeeMay 29, 2014 - 6:28 pm

    CD, the same time we come off furloughs we pay 3.5 percent more towards PERS. There goes a big chunk of the "raise".

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • JagMay 29, 2014 - 12:09 pm

    and yet all of the work was getting done so why change?

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  • CD BrooksMay 29, 2014 - 12:15 pm

    Jag, your cynicism and common disregard for city employees duly noted. You're very likely one of those folks that didn't notice when the best work was actually performed by qualified city personnel.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • JagMay 29, 2014 - 12:52 pm

    Lol I agree with you CD when it comes to business I don't have much compassion, Its not I am against city workers just bid a job out and if the city worker can do the job for the same price then ok, but please make it apples to apples so add it the city worker whole package when bidding a job.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Rick WoodMay 29, 2014 - 5:58 pm

    J: All of the work is not getting done. Service levels have dropped. You have to exclude police and fire because I don't believe they ever went on furloughs.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Rick WoodMay 29, 2014 - 12:11 pm

    CE: If you are a salaried as opposed to hourly employee, then you should have been eligible for overtime in any week you also had a furlough day. That's the rule. If you are an hourly employee, you were always eligible for overtime, and that doesn't change. But overtime is defined by your original, non-furlough work week.

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  • General Fadi BasemMay 29, 2014 - 4:09 pm

    Is there a list of words or concepts that the DR has compiled that lead to a users comments being censored out?

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Dexter FowlerMay 29, 2014 - 4:37 pm

    Oh no a line of TWENTY whole people??? How in the world did we survive that??? Seriously we raise taxes now we go back to spend spend spend. Lets not bother to continue to save money. Dont worry the sheeple will allow another tax increase. I am so glad crime is down with the passage of measure P

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Another City EmployeeMay 29, 2014 - 5:30 pm

    "Ending the furloughs will cost the city about $2 million a year, said David White, assistant city manager." Another way to look at it is that it has cost city employees $2 million a year these past four years. And that's not counting the other cuts we took to help during the budget crisis.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • JagMay 29, 2014 - 6:32 pm

    As a tax payer sounds good to me we just saved 6 million dollars so why go back?

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • LOLMay 29, 2014 - 6:58 pm

    So you're the reason everyone gets short changed at McDonalds...

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  • JagMay 29, 2014 - 7:18 pm

    yeah I saw that after I posted too 6 million 8 million as long as we out source the work or get it done for the same price is all that matters,

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • LOLMay 29, 2014 - 7:34 pm

    "Get it done for the same price"!? You suckin too many fumes at that drive-thru window?

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • JagMay 29, 2014 - 8:39 pm

    Of course I know they can not compete which means we would replace them or you if you are one of them

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Rick WoodMay 30, 2014 - 8:02 am

    Jag: Would you like your streets patrolled by the low bidder?

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • CD BrooksMay 30, 2014 - 12:21 pm

    Rick Wood, is that a trick question? ;)

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  • JagMay 30, 2014 - 12:42 pm

    Nope I never mention police and fire, Lets start with administration, streets, parks and water repair jobs first, after that I would be happy to look at private patrol for the worst areas of town but we may have save so much money off of the first half that maybe we could hire more police. what is so wrong with looking at out bids for the work city workers do and see if money can be saved? besides it goes against a union contract.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Rick WoodMay 30, 2014 - 12:53 pm

    Jag: Then I challenge you to do a little research about how much of that is contracted out already. You're just assuming. Given you are probably not unusual in your misperceptions, perhaps the DR can do the research and get back to us with a story.

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  • JagMay 30, 2014 - 1:04 pm

    granted I am assuming, I have seen in a post about an outside landscaping company, just not sure if it is city property or if they work for a housing community, but you said you are a retired city worker, how many outside contractors were working on city projects when you were working? street repair, city parks, ect

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  • Rick WoodMay 30, 2014 - 10:39 pm

    Jag: I can't give you a definitive answer, but I believe practically all public works projects are designed and constructed using contractors. A lot of maintenance is contracted out, especially landscaping, but also across the board if it is at all specialized. Administration and operations, less so, as it should be. I'm sure the City can provide a list of all contractors working for the City and what they are doing. Then there are things the City hasn't done for years, if ever, that other cities do, such as refuse collection, wastewater treatment, ambulance service, energy. That gives you a start.

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  • JagMay 30, 2014 - 11:05 pm

    really? they do outsource some stuff? like for example street repairs, is that done 100% by city workers or is some of that out source?

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  • Rick WoodMay 30, 2014 - 11:15 pm

    Jag: Hey, this is YOUR research project. I don't know details like that, but if you are imagining a city where the unions won't allow contracting out, you are mistaken. That's not Fairfield.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • JagMay 31, 2014 - 6:47 am

    Fair enough, thank you for the lesson and an intelligent conversation

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  • Another City EmployeeMay 30, 2014 - 1:41 pm

    Well Jag, let’s just look at one city department, the Water Department. The city already contracts out the major installs to the lowest bidder. Sure the city has inspectors that oversee the work but the contractor controls his employees & the qualifications of those employees. They could hire anyone from behind the drive-thru window at Mickie D's, hand him a shovel & tell them to go dig a hole. After all they only have so much money to work with since they low balled the bid to get the job. The "City's" Water Department maintains the many, many miles of aging water lines in the city including 24/7 emergency repairs. These "loyal" city employees have many years of knowledge thanks to many years of working on Fairfield’s water delivery system. These loyal city workers are highly trained. They have D1, D2, and even D3 Water Distribution Licenses as well as Backflow Prevention Tester certs. Class A driver’s licenses as well as being trained & certified Backhoe/Loader operators. I for one would rather have these workers on the job rather than some low bid contractor who has to re-bid every few years against other contractors with a fresh crew of Mickie D workers. I kinda like turning the handle of the faucet & seeing fresh clear water flow out.

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  • JagMay 30, 2014 - 2:19 pm

    Fair enough Mr. city, and on my side in my current position I deal with back flow test here in San Francisco 4 times a year and that so called test is a joke but mandatory by the city of San Francisco, In my old life I used to drive Class A for a company called underground construction where we did many street jobs including replacing pipe with well qualified people for what I am sure was a much lower cost so as a tax payer I for one am ok with plan lower cost

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Another City EmployeeMay 30, 2014 - 3:09 pm

    Wow Jag, backflow testing is a joke!? Really? Well I have a "Backflow Prevention Assembly General Tester" cert and based on the contaminant & the possibility of contamination I can assure you it is no joke. Maybe you should stick to the drive-up window at McDonalds, I'd rather be short changed than poisoned...

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • JagMay 30, 2014 - 3:50 pm

    Ok you disagree with my position and you result to insults, Classy Good day sir

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • clancyMay 29, 2014 - 7:54 pm

    Jag . what a great idea. They will probably never do that it makes too much sense!

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • JagMay 29, 2014 - 8:25 pm

    Thanks Fairfield can have it for free and if they want to know who will pay for the machines let’s say you charge a $1 service fee for using it. That could be a pretty good profit for a company

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  • CD BrooksMay 30, 2014 - 7:59 am

    ACE, so is that a complaint? I don't get it. You're getting your hours and pay back so even if some goes to support the pension which it should, you still get more money. Look at the bright side you're contributing to your own retirement as well!

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  • Rick WoodMay 30, 2014 - 12:45 pm

    CD: I agree, except be aware that historically, the City has paid all or a portion of the employee share of pension costs. It's a benefit like any other. If all or part of the 3.5% is a giveback of that benefit, then it is effectively a pay cut. The 10% is simply to pay for the additional hours worked as a result of ending furloughs. That's not a raise, as we've already discussed.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • CD BrooksMay 30, 2014 - 1:01 pm

    Rick, as I said earlier, I am intimately aware of the city process. I like a 4-10 work week and I worked nights on the program for 15 years before I retired. I would never have chosen to go back to a typical five day work week.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Another City EmployeeMay 30, 2014 - 1:48 pm

    CD, just making a point that when the city was in need FEA stepped forward, tooks cuts, took the furloughs, paid more towards heathcare cost, PERS cost and continue to do so. We are not getting a raise...

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  • CD BrooksMay 30, 2014 - 4:17 pm

    ACE, well aware of all the issues. Hope you somehow manage to get something positive out of all this.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
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