Bonner council supports 4 percent wage increases for employees
Though some city department heads are in favor of merit-based pay increases, the city of Bonner Springs will do a flat percentage raise for all employees in 2013.
The Bonner Springs City Council had previously discussed either giving a 4 percent wage increase for all employees, or a 2 percent cost of living wage increase and an up to 2 percent merit increase, depending on results of each employee’s annual evaluation. After discussing the matter at its Monday regular meeting, the council decided Tuesday following a special budget session that for 2013, it would reward employees, who have not received regular wage increases in the past few years due to tight budgets, with a 4 percent raise.
At Monday’s meeting, the council reviewed the process the city uses to determine merit increases. Carol Sharp, human resources director, showed an example of an employee review with the performance review software.
Sharp said employees first have a say through an employee input form, in which they can comment on their performance over the past year and mention accomplishments outside of their regular job duties.
Employees then are evaluated on 16 competencies, with five subcategories for each competency, for areas like ethics/values, communications, cooperation, quality of work and initiative and creativity. Employees are rated on a scale of 0-3, with 1 being unsatisfactory and 3 being excelling.
Sharp explained that to rate a person as anything other than a 2, satisfactory, in each subgroup, the evaluator had to provide specific examples of why the employee was excellent or unsatisfactory.
Employees who get all “satisfactory” ratings would get a 1 percent merit wage increase, and higher ratings earn a higher increase. Employees who are unsatisfactory are put on 60-day probation.
John Helin, city manager, said the system made it very hard for an evaluator to unfairly give a better review for an employee they may favor.
“As I’m doing a rating, I have no clue what the final score is going to be because it’s all done by a computer,” he said. “… Brownnosers can’t get through when you have to justify three (ratings) through 16 competencies.”
Council member Rodger Shannon, who has expressed a dislike for merit-based wage increases in the past, said he thought rating employees on items such as “treats people with respect” were too subjective.
“I feel like we have to have that faith in our department heads and supervisors that they can objectively do a review on employees,” Sharp responded.
Councilmember George Cooper suggested a flat raise for all employees would cut down on work for evaluators, but Helin said the city would do annual reviews even if merit wage increases weren’t reinstituted.
Rick Sailler, utilities director, spoke in favor of the merit increases.
“If you don’t do merit raises, you wreck the morale for your stellar employees,” he said. “There’s no reason for them to work harder, try harder, get the extra training… there’s no incentive for employees to do a better job.”
But at its budget meeting the following night, the council learned that the city’s property valuations had not come in as low as expected. With a better financial outlook, the council decided to give all employees the same wage increase and discuss merit increases again next year. The wage increases will receive final approval when the council approves the 2013 budget.
In other business Monday, the council:
• Conducted an hour-long executive session during a workshop prior to the regular meeting to discuss non-elected personnel.
• Heard Smith proclaim July 9 as Clinton Long Day in the city, in recognition as his retirement as the city’s fire chief at the end of the month and his 37 years with the city’s fire department.
• Approved items on the consent agenda, with Councilmembers Jeff Harrington abstaining from check No. 117422 and George Cooper from check No. 117381 in the claims for city operations, as those checks were related to their employers.
• Approved amendments to the city’s pay plan.
• Awarded a bid for the 2012 recycle-in-place street program for $373,083 to Little Joe’s Asphalt.
• Awarded a bid for the 2012 concrete street program for $21,055 to John Smith Construction.
• Approved an ordinance amendment to define Canaan Center Drive as a trafficway connection.
• Approved resolutions for the 134th Street utility relocations for street, water and sewer improvements.