Council debates raises for city employeesPublished 8:33pm Wednesday, January 12, 2011
The City Council of Alexander City is considering giving city employees a step raise, its first raise in more 16 months.
When the City Council approved its $50 million budget in December, it allowed additional funding for raises, which will become effective Feb. 1. However, city finance director Steve Hays has since found problems with the city’s pay scale.
What Hays has proposed is to forego giving city employees a cost-of-living raise and approve one step raise for everyone effective Feb. 1. The measure will be on the next city council meeting on Jan. 18.
Hays proposed doing this as a temporary solution while they work on the underlying issue.
“We have inconsistencies with the way the pay grid is implemented among city departments,” Hays said. “I am recommending that we give all city employees a one-time step increase because all city salaries have been frozen for the last 16 months. That’s a temporary fix, but it will give us time to study the problem and correct it in time for next year’s budget.”
That means that just about every public safety employee would receive a 3.5 percent pay increase while other city workers will receive a 3 percent increase. The police and fire departments have different pay scales from the rest of the city departments.
Hays said the city just recently adopted a new pay scale, which was developed from a Jacksonville State University study. While the pay scale gave employee more step raises, Hays said it wasn’t clear when the pay increases would be given to city employees.
“Shortly after we adopted the pay scale, the city froze all salaries and no one has been able to get a step raise since then,” Hays said. “The whole pay grid system had not been implemented.”
Councilman Mark Fuller said he believed the city council may have misled department heads when they asked them to cut their expenses by 10 percent in exchange for employee raises and Christmas stipends.
“We told department heads that we were going to give them a $200 Christmas bonus, cost-of-living raises and two step raises,” Fuller said. “We fulfilled the Christmas bonus. Now, you’re saying that we’re only going to give them onestep raise and no cost of living raise. I think we may have misled our employees.”
Council President Richard Langford said the council didn’t necessarily agree to that, but he said the council would give employees raises if the city could afford to do it.
Langford then asked Mayor Barbara Young to form a team to work on the pay grid issue and have a solution ready by June 30.