Greg Prada’s letter to the editor (“EID passes 7 percent wage hikes”) is misinformed and wrong. Although he was present for the February 25 EID Board meeting, this self-proclaimed “ratepayer advocate” seems less interested in facts than in political spin.
Mr. Prada would have readers believe that salaries are driving EID’s rates. They are not. Even if every possible merit increase was earned, and inflation was at least 2 percent in every year, EID’s payroll would grow only 3.9 percent in 2014, 3.2 percent in 2015, and 2.5 percent in 2016—not 7 percent annually.
The fact is half of EID’s workforce isn’t even eligible for a salary step increase. By 2016, fewer than 25 employees will be. And eligible employees are only granted the increase if they have met or exceeded job expectations defined in performance measures on their annual evaluations.
Here’s another fact: The EID Board and Employee Association agreed to implement the Public Employee Pension Reform Act five years early. This action will save the District $3.1 million between now and 2018. Our employees will pay the full share of their pension contribution by the end of this year. This amounts to a permanent 4 percent reduction in their income.
In return for the pension concessions, the current association contract was extended for three years, through 2016. The extension includes annual CPI-based cost-of-living adjustments between 0 percent and 2 percent. If inflation is zero, the COLA is zero. If inflation is 3 percent or higher, the COLA is 2 percent. We think this deal protects our ratepayers.
Since 2008, EID staffing has been reduced by 30 percent and total operating expenses have dropped $4.7 million — nearly 10 percent. Projected increases for operations and maintenance are limited to 2 percent per year going forward.
The reason EID’s rates are rising is to pay annual debt costs that will increase from $19.8 million in 2012 to $29.4 million in 2016. We incurred that debt to refurbish the facilities that provide our customers with safe, reliable drinking water and wastewater treatment, and to respond to ever more burdensome regulatory mandates handed down by the state and federal governments.
EID General Manager