In a meeting which lasted nearly 5 1/2 hours Tuesday night, the Starkville Board of Aldermen took steps toward devising a more concrete 2010-2011 fiscal year budget, despite outcry from two board members over what they called “unfair” pay raises for nearly three dozen city employees.
The board will vote Wednesday on the proposed budget, which includes a 0.45-mill ad valorem tax increase, roughly $36,000 in combined pay raises for 24 city employees to make their salaries competitive with their peers, and nearly $4,000 in combined pay raises for 11 additional employees to boost their wages above the federal poverty standard of $18,430 per year for a family of three.
Ward 6 Alderman Roy A. Perkins and Ward 7 Alderman Henry Vaughn Sr. were opposed to the pay raises for the 24 employees, saying all 282 city workers should receive a raise, not just a few dozen selected by city personnel director Randy Boyd.
But Boyd defended the proposed salary adjustments, saying the city has department heads making less than non-department heads, supervisors making less than non-supervisors and several instances where two people who have worked for the city the same amount of time aren”t receiving equal pay. Additionally, the city has such a high employee turnover rate because it doesn”t offer “competitive” enough salaries, Boyd said.
Mayor Parker Wiseman backed Boyd and Ward 2 Alderwoman Sandra Sistrunk, who chaired the city”s budget committee.
“When you have two department heads making less than non-department heads, it tells you that you have flaws in your compensation system,” Wiseman said.
Sistrunk said it would cost about $125,000 to give all city employees the 1.75-percent pay raise Perkins wants to see. Meanwhile, it would only cost about $40,000 total to give salary adjustments to the nearly three dozen employees selected by Boyd, she said.
“The money is just not there,” Sistrunk said, in reference to Perkins” 1.75-percent pay raise proposal.
Perkins and Vaughn pushed for the 1.75-percent increase because all city employees, as of July 1, now must pay an additional 1.75 percent into the state”s Public Employees Retirement System, from 7.25 percent to 9 percent. The additional PERS requirement equates to a pay cut, Perkins said.
Perkins proposed paying for a 1.75-percent salary increase by combining the nearly $40,000 already proposed for salary adjustments, plus another $49,000 in projected revenues, $86,000 budgeted to hire new city employees, $100,000 planned for a contingency fund and another $100,000 designated to go back toward the city”s ending fund. Those moneys would easily pay for salary increases for all city employees, not just a few dozen, Perkins said.
“I don”t want to do anything to exclude the rest of the workforce,” he said.
Perkins and Vaughn voted against a motion to include the pay raises caused by salary inequities in the 2010-2011 budget. However, only Perkins voted against a second motion to include in the budget increased wages for workers who are making less than the federal poverty standard.
Ward 3 Alderman Eric Parker, Ward 4 Alderman Richard Corey and Ward 5 Alderman Jeremiah Dumas voted in favor of Sistrunk”s motions to include salary adjustments in the 2010-2011 budget. Ward 1 Alderman Ben Carver recused himself from all budget talks and did not vote because his father works for the Starkville Fire Department and would be affected by salary adjustments.
Perkins and Vaughn also voted against the remainder of the board”s decision to rename the Sanitation Department the Sanitation and Environmental Services Department. The landscaping and landfill divisions of the city”s Public Services Department now will become part of the Sanitation and Environmental Services Department.
The change was appropriate because the Public Services Department deals mostly with water and sewer issues, Sistrunk said, while the Sanitation Department deals with issues more closely related to landscaping and the landfill.
Perkins, however, felt the move was the city”s attempt to create a new department without advertising for a new department head. Under the reorganization, Sanitation Department head Sharon Boyd would take over the newly formed Sanitation and Environmental Services Department.
Perkins also said the reorganization insinuates the landscaping and landfill divisions are not performing adequately under the Public Service Department, but Sistrunk and Randy Boyd said that is not the case.
The Board of Aldermen is expected to vote on the proposed 2010-2011 fiscal year budget at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday in City Hall.
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