Archive for Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Council OKs 5 percent pay hike for city workers

2.5 percent slated as cost of living; supervisors to base decision about next 2.5 percent on merit

December 20, 2006

Basehor officials acknowledge city workers' pay rates are too low, and on Monday they took a first step toward fixing that problem.

Council members approved a plan that would make employees eligible for 5 percent salary increases.

But the work on city salaries is not over.

During the next year, City Administrator Carl Slaugh will begin to develop a revamped pay plan for employees, in hopes of bringing salaries more in line with those in neighboring communities. He provided information to city council members Monday about how city employees stack up against their peers in other towns.

"To summarize, Basehor is lower than surrounding communities," he said.

At Monday's meeting, Basehor City Council members agreed they would provide enough money for a 5 percent raise for employees. The council members disagreed, however, on how to divide that 5 percent between cost of living and merit.

Slaugh recommended 3.3 percent for cost of living and 1.7 percent for merit.

Slaugh also questioned council members on how they wanted to implement a merit pay system.

For example, he said, all Lansing employees receive a cost of living increase, while merit increases are given to employees who are not on probation.

Slaugh proposed that a 1.7 percent merit raise be broken down according to employee performance. Individuals who received a good or excellent rating from their supervisors would be rewarded with 100 percent of the merit raise. Those with a satisfactory rating would receive 80 percent and unsatisfactory ratings would not receive the merit increase.

However, several council members thought that would not provide enough incentive for employees to work for a raise. It also would not provide enough reward for employees who were going above and beyond their duties.

"It just makes sense that people who are working harder and have more responsibility should have more of the pie," council president John Bonee said.

Council members also were concerned some positions are underpaid, but Slaugh said that forming a new pay plan would take a time. While Basehor still would be below surrounding communities with a 5 percent increase, it would make a significant difference until a more detailed pay plan could be developed, he said.

"We can discuss and look at these numbers until we're blue in the face and cross-eyed," Mayor Chris Garcia said. "He (Slaugh) came to us, and he's done the best job that he can with what he has in a short amount of time. I agree, we can't take care of this overnight, but we're doing better than we have in the past three years,"

Keith Sifford's motion to approve the wage plan as written by Slaugh died because it lacked a second. Council member Terry Thomas made a motion to approve the plan with an even split of 2.5 percent for the cost of living and 2.5 percent based on merit, but it also died.

Council members finally approved a 5 percent pay increase -- with 2 percent earmarked as cost of living and 3 percent as merit. Council members underscored their concerns that some positions are underpaid.

Department supervisors will determine merit increases.

Council members Sifford and Bill Hooker said they opposed the motion because they did not agree with how the 5 percent was split.

In other action Monday, the council:

  • Approved, 5-0, an amendment to the 2006 budget.
  • Denied, 5-0, an exception for late filing of the Neighborhood Revitalization Tax Rebate for Marshall Properties.
  • Approved, 5-0, to release the fire insurance proceed funds to the contractor for 16803 Juniper Dr., contingent that all repairs are made according to code.
  • Renewed, 5-0, liquor and cereal malt beverage licenses for Shorty's Liquor, Kelley's Grille and Bar and Simple Simons.
  • Tabled, 4-1, with Sifford opposed, approval for the scope of work for Leavenworth Road drainage improvements until obstructions such as fences and rock are removed from the drainage ditch.
  • Approved, 4-1, with Iris Dysart opposed, to solicit requests for qualifications from engineering firms to design a wastewater treatment facility.
  • Accepted, 5-0, the resignation of planning commissioner Steve Douglas.
  • Approved, 5-0, condemnation action for street right of way.
  • Approved, 5-0, year-end budget transfers.
  • Approved, 4-1, with Bonee opposed, the recommendation for consolidation of funds.
  • Approved, 4-1, with Bonee abstaining, an update on the 147th and Parallel Road project, which includes a 27-foot-wide road, curbs at the radius and widening the culvert. The scope and authorization to proceed with condemnation to secure right of way also was approved.
  • Approved, 5-0, a request for city planner Dustin Smith to attend a planning conference in April.

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