Incumbents Mayor Hiremath and Council Members Hornat, Snider and Waters either misstated the facts of simply obliquely responded when asked the following question at last week's Northwest Conservatives candidate forum.
"Lacking any evidence that the Town has difficulty retaining employees, the recently adopted salary increases were based on a study that compared Oro Valley to cities and counties with much larger populations. The increases are ongoing and also trigger increased retirement obligations for the Town. Given that residents’ incomes are flat or declining, and County property taxes are increasing significantly, please explain your views on fiscal responsibility relative to salaries.”Fact Check: When All Is Considered, The Average Wage Increase Is 6.5%, Mr. Mayor, not 2%
Mayor Hiremath stated: "The reality is, the average raise the employees got was 2%."
Mayor Hiremath is wrong.
The fact is that the minimum one time salary adjustment was 2.7% for Oro Valley's top 24 employees. Some one-time adjustments are as high as 6%. On top of this, each employee will receive an merit increase on their employment anniversary date of from 3.5 - 4.0% on their new base wage. Taken together, the one-time adjustment plus the merit increases will average about 6.5%, Some employees will see a double digit increase over their 2013-2014 compensatoin
Fact Check: There Is No Town Of Oro Valley Employee Retention Problem
No one discussed the retention rate of Oro Valley employees. Our guess is the incumbents either never checked on what the retention rate is or that the retention rate is high, therefore not supporting their position. We have seen no mass exodus of Oro Valley employees despite not receiving salary increase for 3 years. This is because there are few comparable job opportunities.
Waters pointed to former town planner David Williams. Williams, be believe, left to go into private practice for, what we understand, were personal reasons over which the town would have no control; and the town's Human Resource Director, Ron Corbin, left to return to Yuma to be with his wife. His position, based on this study, received a 8.3% earnings increase based on the study.
Fact Check: 8 of 11 Municipalities To Which Oro Valley Was Compared In The Salary Study Are In The Phoenix Area
Council Member Joe Hornat disputed that the study included towns bigger the Oro Valley. He observed that Sahuarita and Marana were included in the study. He is correct. However, these are only 2 of the 11 communities considered. The fact is, as noted in our posting last week, 8 of the 11 cities in the study were in Maricopa County. All of these have substantially larger populations than Oro Valley.
Fact Check: Current Compensation Is Just One Possible Factor That Attracts Or Retains Quality Personal
Council Member Snider stated the following in response to the question:
"Any organization that thinks they can satisfy the needs of their constituents on mediocrity [of employees] is set up for failure."We think that Snider equates high pay to retaining quality employees. Pay is merely one possible reason people want to work for the Town Of Oro Valley.
Some like public service. Some serve because a public sector job presents a more suitable life style than the pressure-filled competitive nature of the private sector. Others like working in the public sector because public sector jobs are more secure than private sector jobs. Some like it because the benefits they receive, like the ones offered in Oro Valley are far richer than those offered in other communities or the private sector. Even others like it because of the rich defined benefits retirement program, a program that is no longer offered in the private sector. Regardless of the reason compensation is only one reason that motivates people to work for the Town of Oro Valley.
Fact Check: Challengers Agreed That Some Increase Was Warranted, However...
Mayoral Candidate Patrick Straney and Council Candidate Don Bristow observed that raises were in order for town staff. Employees had, after all, not received increases in 3 years.
Bristow pointed out that it is the basis for determining the size of the raises that is of concern: "The problem is that the study [upon which the decision was made to significantly increase staff salaries] is flawed."
Pat Straney cautioned that Oro Valley should be thinking "long term" when it comes to granting salary increases. Given the transient nature of most of Oro Valley's revenues: "We need to know the impact and where the money [in the future] is coming from" to pay for increases.
Please watch the video. Then, tell us: What is your analysis of the responses?