Council votes down department head pay increases

Posted March 13, 2013 at 12:10 pm

City Council

By Kim Brooks, Express Editor

The majority of the Monticello City Council meeting on March 4 centered on potential approval of fiscal year 2014 wages for city department heads and city employees not covered by the Collective Bargaining Agreement.

The resolution called for a 2 percent increase for the city clerk, public works director, parks and rec director, police department secretary/local access coordinator and regular part-time maintenance worker. The resolution also called for potential approval for the city administrator to voluntarily reduce a 3.5 percent increase provided by contract to 2 percent.

One change to the proposed wage increases was the addition of the FBO airport manager. City Administrator Doug Herman said the Airport Board recommended an increase of 2.8 percent for the airport manager, but it was agreed upon at 2 percent, to stay in line with all other city department heads.

In looking over the wages of those listed for pay increases, Council members Bill Meyer and Dave Goedken both spoke out on the “disparity between the wages.”

“The percentage (increase) keeps widening the gap,” commented Meyer of the difference in wages. “I don’t like it and I’m not in favor of that.”

Goedken added, “It looks like all are being treated the same (at 2 percent), but they’re not. It doesn’t make sense.”

Goedken and Meyer said they would rather see a figure increase versus a percent, to make sure everyone gets the same increase across the board.

The Council put the resolution to a vote, with John Sauser making the motion to approve the wage increases at 2 percent and Tom Yeoman making the second. The vote failed 3-2, with Goedken and Meyer opposing. The vote needed four ayes to pass, however Council member Reenie Breyer was absent.

Much discussion followed the failed vote. Herman informed the Council that if the city went to a 50- or 55-cent pay increase per hour, that could end up costing the city more money in the long run versus a percent increase.

Mayor Dena Himes commented, “Salary staff far exceed their 40 hours without overtime.”

Another issue both Goedken and Meyer had when it came to the vote was the timeframe for filing employee evaluations. Meyer said approving the pay increases before compiling evaluations didn’t make sense. “I’m not going to vote for a raise without the proper paperwork done,” said Meyer.

With no clear direction on how to correct the issue, Herman informed the Council that the wage increases didn’t necessarily need to be approved at the Council meeting. Regular practice in the past has been to approve the budget and wage increases at the same time.

“We have until July 1,” Herman noted on when the process has to be finalized by the Council.

In addressing the divide between wages, Herman explained that the salary figures are representative of the cost of living and “a job done well.” He said everyone has his/her own levels of education and work experience, which is evident of their pay.

Council member Chris Lux asked whether the Council could see the proposed 2 percent wage increases broken down into actual dollars and cents figures to compare the amounts.

“I hope that answers all of our questions,” Lux said of the vote.

“Some employees just don’t deserve a 2 percent increase,” Meyer commented.

“If you go back 10 years,” offered Herman, “this is the way the process has been handled all along,” referring to the percent increase.

In other city business:

The Council waived the rental fee for the Community Building for a fundraiser for the Animal Welfare Foundation, a county non-profit organization.

Council member John Sauser said he would like to see a policy in place for all non-profit organizations using the Community Building.

A public hearing was scheduled for Monday, March 18, at 6 p.m. on the proposed re-zoning of property located at 653 N. Cedar St. from R-1 to R-3.

Tami Bartram presented design proposals to the Council for a new shed at the city park as well as replacing the awning in front of the Berndes Center.

Herman informed the Council that the Iowa DOT is planning to do work at the corner of N. Cedar St. and E. First St. to upgrade the sidewalks. He said the work could take place any time between April and October.