The annual net wage increase of 5.5-percent for City Department Heads and non-union personnel approved recently by the Cherokee City Council for 2011-2012 resulted from the City's effort to better align City employees wages with other area communities of similar size.
As part of the new compensation package, all full-time employees, including Department Heads, with insurance coverage for spouse, children, or full family, will begin paying a portion of their health insurance premiums beginning Jan. 1, 2012. The employee will contribute 5-percent of the difference between single coverage and that of the spouse, children, or full family coverage they have enrolled in. The employees previously did not pay any of their health insurance premiums.
Consistent with the contract agreed to with the I.U.O.E. union early this year, an annual net wage increase of 5.5-percent will be implemented in two steps - 4-percent on July 1, 2011; and 3-percent on Jan. 1, 2012.
According to City Administrator Don Eikmeier, the described raises will offset the contribution by the employee to the health insurance premium.
Eikmeier also told the Council that the City has compared the compensation package with other communities throughout Western Iowa and it will make "significant" steps toward comparability of Cherokee salaries with those other communities.
A breakdown of the increases provided by the City shows eight Department Heads (Supervisory Personnel) and three hourly employees attaining an estimated $27,000 in combined increased compensation after the proposed 4-percent hike goes into effect July 1, 2011 and the remaining 3-percent increase takes effect Jan. 1, 2012.
With a previous annual salary of $53,625.34, the two incremental raises will hike Police Chief Steve Schuck's pay to $57,443.46 after Jan. 1, 2012; and City Clerk Deb Taylor's salary from $48,224.99 to $51,658.59.
Other Department Heads and their increases include Parks Superintendent Duane Mummert from $48,224.99 to $51,658.59; Street Superintendent James Agnitsch from $48,224.99 to $51,658.59; Water Superintendent Mark Napier from $48,739.99 to $52,210.26; Wastewater Superintendent Steve Casey from $48,739.99 to $52,210.26; Library Director Mari Jo Ruppert from $40,741.35 to $43,642.13; and Recreation Director Dave Ellis from $32,442.53 to $34,752.43.
For City hourly employees, Police Secretary Julie Case, who previously earned $15.96 per hour, will earn $17.11 per hour after Jan. 1, 2012; Adult Librarian Judy Grienke-Miller goes from $18.26 per hour to $19.56; and Parks/Cemetery employee Steve Thill goes from $17.75 to $19.01 per hour.
Also included in the new compensation package and effective Jan. 1, 2012, all employees who have dpendent health insurance coverage will begin to pay 5-percent of the premiums as follows:
*Spouse Only - $24.31 per month.
*Children Only - $20.71 per month.
*Spouse & Children - $48.00 per month.
In related business, Eikmeier also emphasized to the Council that most Cherokee City Department Heads average more than 25 years experience and some will be retiring in the future.
"Catching up" with salaries paid by other cities of similar size, and adjusting upward the salaries for those positions will allow for better-qualified replacement candidates when that time comes, said the City Administrator.