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A Quick Budget Observation - Staff Headcount

Town Headcount Has Increased Over 15% in Past Decade; Do They Want More?

We earlier provided our comments on the Town's 2021-22 budget in articles here and here, along with an associated letter to the Town Council, but thought we'd mention this nugget about our fine town that was founded on the principle of "minimal government":

  • The budget calls for 38.65 full time equivalent employees in 2021-22.

  • Contrast that with the 33.5 full time equivalent employees in 2011-12.

That's more than a 15% increase in headcount in the past decade (all of which is outside of the Police Department).

But Wait, There's More!

In its June 9 staff report related to jettisoning the Town's management of weddings at the Hacienda and handing over that function to a private organization (stories here and here) and thus eliminate the need for $90,000 worth of Town staff to deal with wedding management, the report indicates that despite this potential labor savings, the Town still intends to retain that staff for alternative, rather vague activities/duties.

Further, according to the June 9 staff report's math, the Town Manager and Parks & Rec Director also sought to use an additional $92,000 of Wedgewood's lease payments to hire additional staff for Parks & Rec program expansion and for "general government" for activities such as increasing public outreach and "manage special projects as needed."

Cynics might think staff was trying to downplay the newly-freed-up payroll so the Town Council wouldn't exercise the potential savings while simultaneously obfuscating the recommended spending of lease payments as a simple "reallocation" of existing resources, even though the math quite clearly shows those resources would be have been new and costly beyond the labor savings they already intended to forego.

Not an unreasonable conclusion when combined with the undisclosed rationale behind the uncharacteristically restrictive lease that staff recommended for the Mulberry Tree Preschool - a lease that would have put the school out of business while handing the Town a fully-equipped, turn-key preschool and daycare building with playgrounds and other improvements (see story here).

The Bottom Line?

By the staff report's math and recommendations, the Town would simultaneously choose to forego $90,000 in labor savings and would spend another $92,000 of Wedgewood's Hacienda lease payments on more staff.

Thankfully, at its June 9 meeting, the Town Council directed staff to "unbundle" the personnel items from the Hacienda lease approval since they are two, distinct decisions and there are quite clearly other priorities for the Town's money.


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