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Posted on Thu, Dec 6, 2012 : 8:10 a.m.

One year after heavy cuts, Washtenaw County gives its employees bonuses

By Amy Biolchini

About a year after the Washtenaw County Board of Commissioners cut budgets in a number of departments, it approved a 1.5 percent one-time bonus for county employees Wednesday night during its last meeting of the year.

A 10-1 vote of the board approved bonuses for 940 county employees that have been required to take time off without pay this year. Commissioner Dan Smith, R-Northfield Township, was the dissenting vote.

The average amount of the one-time bonus is $800 per employee, which will be paid Dec. 21.


Verna McDaniel

Ryan J. Stanton |

The county found the money for the bonuses in its fund balance. As the county had budgeted for a 5 percent drop in property tax revenues and only experienced a decline of about three-fourths of a percent, there were excess funds left over. Washtenaw County Administrator Verna McDaniel asked that some of the money be given to employees that have made concessions for the county’s budget.

Banked leave days were implemented as a cost-savings measure after property tax values began decreasing in 2009.

Banked leave days are mandatory days off without pay - similar to furlough days - but don’t have an impact on an employee’s retirement calculation.

In 2012, the county negotiated with most union groups for their employees to take 10 banked leave days off, resulting in a salary reduction of 3.85 percent. The county then required all employees to take 10 banked leave days off.

“Our county employees pay additional to their health benefits and their retirement. They have made a huge sacrifice to make this county work,” said Commissioner Ronnie Peterson, D-Ypsilanti. “This is no present, this is no gift; they have earned this compensation. We are just giving them back what they have rightly earned.”

County Commissioners thanked county employees for taking cuts during budget negotiations last year.

“We’re partners with the employees, and our employees came to the table during our last budget and they were willing to make sacrifices,” said Commissioner Yousef Rabhi, D-Ann Arbor. “This is a little way of giving back.”

Union representatives for some of the county employees also spoke at the meeting Wednesday night to express their gratitude for the approval of the bonuses.

“1.5 percent may be seen as a token, but it’s a lot,” said Caryette Fenner, president of AFSCME Local 2733.

Local 2733 represents the largest proportion of county employees and agreed to nearly $8 million in concessions last September so the county could balance its budget.

Nancy Heine, president of the AFSCME supervisors Local 3052, stated that the bonuses will help reduce some of the stress and pain incurred by employees over the past year.

Peterson stated that the wages of county employees would not be adjusted in 2013, except for the employees that are scheduled for contract negotiations.

Amy Biolchini covers Washtenaw County, health and environmental issues for Reach her at (734) 623-2552, or on Twitter.


Nick Danger

Fri, Dec 7, 2012 : 7:32 p.m.

I applaud this decision.The employess have made sacrafices for all of us living in the county

Brenda Kerr

Fri, Dec 7, 2012 : 12:03 p.m.

This is not a bonus. This was a negotiated give back based on certain financial conditions being met. All County salaries are available here: The average is certainly not $120,000.

Steven Murphy

Thu, Dec 6, 2012 : 9:07 p.m.

It must be wonderful to have a job in government; great security and sweet pay and excellent benefits! Up until Feb. of '11, I was at a job for 18-years working for a big manufacturing corporation when in '08 a new CEO came in and after being there for just 6-months played the "one hand washes the other hand" game with her fellow board cronies and was thus handed a $6.4-million bonus even though she did zilch to earn it. Brilliantly, and much to the delight of the shareholders, she then turned around and had a "pay analysis study" conducted that showed that HUNDREDS of us loyal employees -- that had captured 70% of the world's gaming market -- were being "way over paid"! So she took the bull by the horns and canned many of us and replaced us with desperate folks willing to work for peanuts. (At the companies YouTube website she boasts, "Our employees know they have leadership that they can trust.") At the end of this month I'll be in the streets. I sure wish I could get me a sweet government job before that happens, but realistically that's about as likely as winning the lottery.

Steven Murphy

Fri, Dec 7, 2012 : 3:25 p.m.

clown, I'll admit I'm not feeling much affection for people in government these days. (And I still can't believe that $2-bllion was wasted on that election, but that's another story.) I had my unemployment benefits cut off months ago due to some bureaucratic bricks that were way more interested in doing harm to my life so they could show their bosses how "productive" they were for supposedly catching a scoundrel that colored too far outside of the requirement lines ... and so if those particular folks had to sell all of their stuff (for next to nothing) to stay alive and then move into the streets, I can't say I'd be all broken up about it. Btw, I wasn't blaming government workers for the aforementioned CEO's greed; just pointing out what miserable times these are and how too many in places of power are getting away with doing a lot of harm to others as a result of their greed. Thus I think society would be well served to put them and their conduct under a microscope and at least make them squirm a bit. (My local paper should have done an expose, Sunday edition Special, to report it far and wide what the evil CEO did. But they didn't bother because the company makes various contributions to charity, and so why rock the boat is likely why they looked the other way.)


Fri, Dec 7, 2012 : 2:30 p.m.

Sure, blame government workers for your employers greed and short sighted business acumen. Do you want to see more of your neighbors on the street with you, would that make you feel better?


Thu, Dec 6, 2012 : 6:36 p.m.

Let me understand this.......county employees are on a "profit sharing plan"? So taxpayers get to pay higher property taxes for reduced services and increased fees to support government workers whose unions make "modest" concessions, and then when there's a financial surplus to get government back on track, they GIVE our tax dollars back to the employees to make up for the financial conessions the unions agreed to? So, in affect, taxpayers have provided these employees with additional "paid vacation" time and bonuses for providing taxpayers fewer and more costly services? I'm so glad I could make Christmas more profitable for these folks by standing in the food bank line so I can afford to pay my property taxes and medical bills.

Tim Hornton

Thu, Dec 6, 2012 : 6:02 p.m.

Scratch my back and I'll scratch yours. Dirty washtenaw politics. Try being a state worker. Their health ins just went through the roof and they get furlough and bank leave days almost every year and have republicans bad mouth them while the libs do lip service but add all types of horrible things to the job to make it an awful job. If I was smart enough I would have been a medical Dr not some social science "doctor" ann arbor has no shortage of those "smart" "doctors".


Fri, Dec 7, 2012 : 12:59 a.m.



Thu, Dec 6, 2012 : 6:22 p.m.

I don't think I would want to be doctor right now. My buddy who's a doctor for a large hospital just told me they took a 30% pay cut, and have to see 30% more patients. He's mad, not because of the pay cut, but because he now doesn't spend enough time with the patients to do his job right.


Thu, Dec 6, 2012 : 4:08 p.m.

They probably meant to confuse us all and they did. But if they reimburse for 10 forced days off at the rate of $800, it works out to $10 an hour. Somehow I think the average county employee earns more.


Thu, Dec 6, 2012 : 6:18 p.m.

They are not being reimbursed the entire 10 days, only what the county could afford. The 10 days was closer to 4%.


Thu, Dec 6, 2012 : 3:53 p.m.

This headline is a cheap shot. If you actually read the article, or better yet, this post on the Chronicle You learn that the "bonus" is only being given to employees who were forced to take 10 days of *unpaid* leave, and the amount of the "bonus" is less than the pay they lost while on leave.


Thu, Dec 6, 2012 : 6:42 p.m.

That seems to have a lot on this glorified-blog called AA. com. I guess bringing out the haters somehow helps them??


Thu, Dec 6, 2012 : 3:02 p.m.

Wait...are you telling me the AVERAGE salary of county employees was $120k? I feel ZERO sympathy for someone with a 6 figure income that was "forced to take unpaid vacation days." The people who hurt when they have hours cut are part-time employees and those living paycheck to paycheck. Someone with a 6 figure income already makes enough to live more than comfortably.... I mean I'm reading that 1.5% as i 1.5% of their salary as a bonus...if that's what they meant.


Thu, Dec 6, 2012 : 4:54 p.m.

My wife's won't be that much, believe I wish she made $120,000 and then we wouldn't be living paycheck to paycheck. She definitely doesn't get a 6 figure income from the county.


Thu, Dec 6, 2012 : 3:26 p.m.

^ What he said.


Thu, Dec 6, 2012 : 3:14 p.m.

Chill out and check your math, dude. $800 is 1.5% of about $53,000, not $120,000.

Tom Todd

Thu, Dec 6, 2012 : 3:01 p.m.

Keep the middle class down and housing values will never come back.

An Arborigine

Thu, Dec 6, 2012 : 2:36 p.m.

Is this in addition to a generous pension and health coverage for life? I know which way I'm voting on any and all ballot proposals to increase taxes.


Thu, Dec 6, 2012 : 10:16 p.m.

Boy talk about all the misinformation. My wife works for the county she does not have health coverage for life. I don't know where you and Teapulican get your info but it's all wrong.


Thu, Dec 6, 2012 : 2:26 p.m.

Is this the same county government that says they have no budget to add badly needed gravel to our road?


Thu, Dec 6, 2012 : 3:06 p.m.

No, it's not the same; the Washtenaw County Road Commission is a separate entity.


Thu, Dec 6, 2012 : 1:58 p.m.

Sounds right to me.

Alan Goldsmith

Thu, Dec 6, 2012 : 1:42 p.m.

This is why County Commissioners weaseling around paying back improper expense account funds was so repulsive--other employees took pay cuts to help during the downturn. Trust me--no one is going to forget Conan Smith and others and their actions in the future, especially if they have entitlement dreams of running for higher office.


Thu, Dec 6, 2012 : 6:09 p.m.

"Trust me--no one is going to forget Conan Smith and others and their actions in the future, especially if they have entitlement dreams of running for higher office." I hope you're right Alan, but I'm betting Conan will spend the rest of his life in public office, it's in his blood and people don't really care anymore.