Concerns raised over impact of Ag. district employee pay cuts


By Kathy Day

Concerned that employees took yet another pay cut on July 1, 22nd District Agricultural Association Manager Tim Finnell told directors on Aug. 14 that the situation is hurting morale and forcing staffers to endure hardships.

Since 2007, the district’s 175 employees – who run the Del Mar Fairgrounds and staff the annual San Diego County Fair – have not had a raise and have actually lost ground because they have been required to take furlough days and seen their personal leave programs reduced.

Noting that the fair again set records for attendance and safety, Finnell said that just before this year’s fair he had given “a key person a glowing evaluation” for the fifth year in a row. But he could not give her a raise and had to tell her that she would have to work two more days during the fair’s extended season.

The extra days, he noted, added to the hardship because it meant more expenses in babysitting and gas.

“I’m starting to see the wheels come off,” he told the directors.

In response, board member David Weston asked “why we can’t just contract out the operations” and have all of the employees hired by an outside entity. He pointed to the San Diego Zoo, where the land is owned by the city but run by a nonprofit organization.

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