POSTED: Friday, June 19, 2009 --- 2:45 p.m.
"We'll just do what we can with a little mess money to do it with," said county worker Shannon Maier. Maier is married with three children. This fall, two of them will be in college. And she just found out she is taking a pay cut.
"I won't say it is easy," she said. "But, I would rather be in Dane County as an employee than in Milwaukee County as an employee."
Because there, in Milwaukee County, workers were forced to cut pay and hours without any chance to negotiate.
Like many counties in our state, Dane County faces a budget problem. A six million dollar one due to rapidly depleted sales tax revenue. To address the issue County Executive Kathleen Falk asked the 2500 county employees, 1500 of which are union, to sacrifice.
"This was done in the spirit of cooperation. This could have been a very contrary affair. But, it wasn't," said Laurence Rodenstein who is with AFSCME.
The five percent pay cuts will start on July 5 and last until December 19, when the pay will return to normal levels. It's projected this will save the county three million dollars. The other three million will come from spending freezes and other pay cuts.
"I pick up the paper everyday and I see what families all across our county are facing. We are all in this together," said Falk. "This is the better way to go for the citizens we serve. It is the better way to go for our employees."
"We can arrange our budget to make do," concluded Maier. "I'd rather that be the case here than just having income totally gone forever."
If the negotiations would have failed 80 to 100 workers could have lost their jobs. Or, they would have been forced to take 6 days off unpaid.
As an incentive to take the deal workers will get six additional paid days off in 2009 at the reduced pay rate.