School Board Approves $505,895 Personnel Commission Budget
Last Monday the School Board approved an annual budget of $505,895 for the School Board Personnel Commission. The Personnel Commission has come under increased scrutiny after a recent political scandal involving the mayor and his son that ultimately led to Patrick Furey, Jr. resigning his post from the City’s Traffic Commission. Furey, Jr., however, has thus far maintained his current position on the School Board Personnel Commission as School Board members have declined to take any action on the subject.
The $505,895 budget is an increase from the $482,227 approved in the prior year with staff salary increases accounting for the bulk of the difference. School Board member Don Lee justified the pay increases by saying, “We’ve been giving anywhere from a 3% to 4% raise to our employees over the last few years.”
The Personnel Commission meets once a month and has a four person staff that includes one Director, two Personnel Analysts, and one Personnel Specialist. Per the approved budget, the Director’s salary increased from $107,940 per year to $113,693 or approximately 5.3%. This increase came on top of a 6.4% increase the Director received in the prior year. The salaries for the rest of the staff increased from $176,955 to $193,550 or approximately 9.4%. The budget also allocates $122,042 for employee benefits and $49,497 for operating expenses.
The question of whether the Personnel Commission should be terminated has previously come before the voters with Measure X in 2005. Interestingly, that vote occurred just prior to when now Mayor Furey was appointed in 2006 to the same Personnel Commission on which his son now serves.
Proponents of the initiative to terminate the Commission argued at the time that Measure X would “return the entire $318,000 annual budget of the Personnel Commission to the General Fund for more pressing needs,” and that it would “impose cost-effective realignment of personnel services and eliminate redundancy and waste making personnel operations more efficient.”
Proponents also claimed that eliminating the Commission would not abolish hiring safeguards as the Board is “legally required to implement rules and regulations to ensure fair hiring practices” irregardless of whether the Personnel Commission exists.
Opponents of Measure X argued that the Personnel Commission “protects the taxpayer’s interests by ensuring that employees are hired based only upon demonstrated knowledge, skills, and abilities and not on who they know,” and that it was needed to “ensure qualified employees are hired and treated fairly and favoritism and nepotism are kept out.”
School Board member Mark Steffens echoed those sentiments Monday night by referring to the issue as a “red herring” and stating that the Personnel Commission was established “so a Board like this cannot get involved in political decisions on people’s jobs.”
Measure X failed by a vote of 41.64% in favor and 58.36% against.