In a time when budget crunches are plenty, Cotati city employees have voluntarily given up raises, stipends and benefits which equal a total savings of over $44,000 for the city.
The generosity came from department heads, city council members and employers of the Sonoma County Organization of Public Employees, which includes secretaries, clerks and public works employees.
The largest savings, about $29,000, came from the four department heads along with several assistants and the deputy city clerk. These city employees gave up their Cost of Living Adjustments for the year, which are about three and a half percent twice yearly. The department heads include: Director of Finance Deirdre Grogan, City Planner Dennis Dorch, Police Chief Les Wasco and Public Works Superintendent Steve Nommsen.
Police Captain Robert Stewart and the Police Departments Support Services Supervisor Helen Millar gave up her COLA as well.
“We’re going to be faced with troubled times because of the state cutbacks,” Stewart said, discussing his reason for giving up his pay raise. “I felt it was appropriate to give up my raise this year to help the city and to help avoid potential layoffs.”
City Manager Bonnie Long voluntarily relinquished her COLA along with a Redevelopment Agency stipend. Linda Rook, assistant to the City Manager, and Sara Anna, deputy city clerk and secretary to the City Manager, also refused any COLA.
Mayor Sandy Elles yielded her $30 per meeting stipend for her position as Executive Director for the Redevelopment Agency last year and was joined this year by Council members Harold Berkemier and Jim Wirt. Together with the savings from Long’s relinquished stipend the Agency will save $2,350.
Wirt renounced the health coverage council members are entitled to, saving the city another $2,786.
“Because I have coverage from my retirement,” Wirt said, I decided there was no reason to have additional insurance.”
SCOPE gave up their COLA for the first half of the year which will save the city around $10,000.
Irene Hilsendager’s column each week touches on moments in the history of Cotati, Rohnert Park and Penngrove.