Raises, 401K contribution in city budget 2016-17 preview

Raises, 401K contribution in city budget 2016-17 preview
April 07
00:00 2016

Budget would raise city’s minimum wage to $10.40 but could also raise taxes



A potential raise of up to 4 percent for non-public safety employees and a new 401k contribution could be in the upcoming City budget.

A preview of the 2016-17 budget was presented to a special meeting of the City Council on Monday, April 4. The city is significantly behind market pay in many of its positions and, other than sworn police officers, doesn’t have 401k contributions, a common benefit offered by other municipalities. This has been having a negative effect on the City’s ability to recruit and retain employees. The potential raises and a new 2 percent contribution to a 401k are an attempt to start remedying that situation, though it may also result in a tax increase.

However, the proposed raises would still leave many positions greatly below the pay in other markets. “That is actually the problem, that we have some categories that are just way

below market,” said City Council Member Dan Besse.

Besse suggested raising pay for such positions in addition to across-the-board pay raises. He asked staff to see how much it would cost to bring such positions up to market pay.

Denice “D.D.” Adams acknowledged that it may take many years to “close the gap.” She said the City might need to look to new benefits to attract employees.

“Maybe not even in our lifetime here, we may not see this remedied, but it is our responsibility to at least come up with a prevention and corrective action so it never gets like this again,” she said.

A balanced projected base budget of $192 million dollars was presented by Assistant City Manager Ben Rowe. It includes nearly $2.4 million to cover the action the City Council took in February to raise minimum public safety worker pay by 7.5 percent with a 2 percent annual supplement in an attempt to help with retention in the fire and police departments. It also covers the hiring of several new positions like five technicians for the consolidated City-County Forensic Services and operating expenses of new facilities like district police offices.

The budget also includes an increase in the subsidy to the Adams  M.C. Benton Convention Center, since part of it will be closed and unable to generate revenue during renovations. There was also money for renovations and repairs at parks and recreation centers, including amenities improvements at Bolton Park, ceiling repair at Sims Recreation Center, and creek bank maintenance at Happy Hill Park.

The base budget includes a merit raise of approximately 2 percent, including benefits, for city employees, which costs $2.2 million. Despite increased revenues from sources like property taxes and savings from things like retirements, attrition and lower fuel prices, that was the only raise for those employees in the base budget.

In the proposed budget enhancements that is additional spending for which funds will have to be found, there is an additional 2 percent market adjustment for non-public safety workers, which costs nearly $1.2 million, and the 2 percent contribution for 401k, effective January 2017, which will cost $558,000.

Budget enhancements also would raise the minimum wage of city employees from $10.10 to $10.40, which costs $39,000 and provides for several new fire and police positions. The budget enhancements come to nearly $3.5 million, which would be approximately the equivalent of a 1.7 cent property tax increase.

City Manager Lee Garrity said that he may ask for a “modest” increase in taxes, but won’t know until May when the staff has more refined budget projections.

A proposed budget is scheduled to be brought before the council on May 26. After several weeks of committee meetings, the budget will go before the council for approval on June 20 and go into effect July 1.

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Todd Luck

Todd Luck

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