CONCORD -- Interim City Manager Valerie Barone this week abruptly dropped a plan to bring back certain raises for management after the city received what she called unexpected bad news on property values within the city.
The taxable value of Concord properties has dropped from $9.8 million in fiscal year 2011-12 to $9.6 million in 2012-13, according to a report by a city consultant.
To what extent the drop in property values will affect property tax revenue the city receives is not yet known, but it certainly will result in the city receiving less money than it expected when passing this year's budget in June. The city had anticipated an increase in property tax revenue.
"It's not a good sign," Barone said Thursday. "It heightens the concern that the economy in Concord may not be recovering as expected."
The data came to the city Monday, a day before City Council was set to vote on management raises and amid fractured contract negotiations with the city's largest union.
In a memo Tuesday, Barone pulled the item on raises from the night's agenda, saying the city needed more time to review what the raw data meant before asking for any increase in compensation.
Barone asked the council to consider making 55 employees elibigle for annual performance-based pay raises of up to 5 percent, the raises ceasing when the employee reached the top of their position's salary range. The incentive program would have been a step in
The raises did not apply to the city manager and city attorney positions or to Office and Professional Employees International Union, Local 29 and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Local 856.
Members of Local 856 came to protest the vote at Tuesday's meeting but left after realizing the item was removed from the agenda. Contract negotiations between the city and the union have reached impasse and are headed next month for fact-finding hearings, during which the two sides will present their cases to an arbitrator. The union represents 150 of the city's 400-some workers.
Union representatives have said the members are asking the city to discontinue furloughs and restore pay and benefits to levels of 2009, before the unions agreed to concessions.
"We feel strongly that it is irresponsible for the city to grant management raises when the city continues a 13-day-per-year furlough program that results in city hall and city services being closed more than one day per month," said Peter Finn, vice president of the local.
He was skeptical of the city consultant's property tax analysis and of how the city might use the information.
"This is just a cynical attempt by city management to fight in the public and intimidate employees by painting a dire financial picture that simply does not exist," said Finn, contending the city has recorded multi-million-dollar budget surpluses in recent years.
Councilman Tim Grayson said the council shouldn't make any changes to worker compensation until it confirms revenues have increased.
"Right now we don't have that information," Grayson said. "In fact, indications are things have not gotten better."
David DeBolt covers Concord and Clayton. Contact him at 925-943-8048. Follow him at Twitter.com/daviddebolt.