Cherokee's City Council Tuesday night wrestled at length with how to proceed in approving wage increases for City Department Heads before ultimately approving a plan on a narrow 3-2 vote.
Tabled from the previous meeting because the Council could not reach a solution, discussion on 7/1/12 salary increases for administrative and Department Head employees dominated Tuesday's meeting with pros, cons, and the wringing of hands.
An option previously suggested by City Administrator Don Eikmeier would use similar size cities to compare salaries, and would then ask the Council to set a maximum percentage increase and allow the Administrator and Mayor Mark Murphy to make a recommendation based on comparability and performance.
Council member Dan Morrow didn't like that idea and insisted it is the Council's job to set salaries. Council member Wayne Pingel agreed with Morrow's premise, but said he doesn't work with the Department Heads on a daily basis and feels that someone who does should have the final say.
As previously requested by Council, the City Clerk-Treasurer's position was separated from the Department Head positions, with the Council unanimously agreeing that the job is more administrative than the others. Hesitant to make a firm decision at the time, Mallory and Morrow suggested tabling the sensitive issue so the Council could hold a workshop for further discussion. Brown reasoned that the Council needs to make a decision now and that the matter has dragged on too long.
A motion by Brown, seconded by Peck, approved a 7.5% salary increase for the City Clerk-Treasurer, retroactive to 7/1/12. In discussion, Morrow argued that if the Clerk would then be brought up to the median salry,are they going to bring all department heads up to that level? All department heads are just as important, said Morrow.
The motion was approved on a 3-2 vote, with Mallory and Morrow dissenting.
Further discussion about Department Head salaries ranged from across-the-board increases to using comparable salaries. Pingel said industry, schools, cities, counties, etc. use comparables,but Morrow didn't feel comparability studies show what the employees' duties entail because every city is different. Brown said it should be left up to the direct supervisor.
A motion by Brown, seconded by Pingel, called for a 7.5% salary increase for Department Heads who are 10% or more below the comparables median, and those who fall 9.99% or less below median would receive a 2% to 5% increase, as determined by the Administrator and Mayor, retroactive to 7/1/12.
In discussion, Pingel said this builds towards getting everyone up to comparability, which is the goal. Mayor Murphy said that comparability is used when negotiating with the unions, who are also working towards getting union employees up to comparability. Mallory said he doesn't feel they can go strictly by comparability. Peck recommended a 4% across-the-board hike for the Department Heads. The Mayor said that setting a maximum percentage allows for flexibility, and is not strictly by comparability. Eikmeier said that in comparing positions city to city, whether teachers or city employees, they need to use comparability as a guideline, but there are always other factors involved.
The motion failed for lack of a majority vote, with Mallory, Morrow, and Peck voting 'no' because they favored an across-the-board increase for all.
After discussing pros and cons on comparables versus across-the-board raises, a motion by Brown, seconded by Pingel, approved a 7.5% salary increase for Department Heads that are 10% or more below median; and those that fall 9.99% or less below median would receive a 2% to 5% increase as determined by the Administrator and Mayor, retroactive to 7/1/12.
The motion then passed 3-2, with Mallory and Morrow holding firm on their no vote, and Peck changing his to yes after hearing the additional input from Brown, Pingel, Murphy, and Eikmeier.
Eikmeier and Murphy are now in the process of meeting with the Department Heads to inform them of their respective wage increases.
In other action, the Council authorized the Koser Spring Lake Park Yacht Club Committee to proceed with advertising for bids; authorized a $3,000 Tourism Grant for the Yacht Club Committee's fundraising campaign; and tabled authorizing a VISION Iowa CAT Grant for further study.
Committee co-chairs Sheree Hausmann and Mark Hecox told the Council that the fundraising was going well, butmore donations are needed to reach the goal of $375,000. The project includes a new Yacht Club, a large outdoor shelter, and several other facility and Park amenities.
The Council also approved Storefront Redevelopment Grants for Greenwood Mortuary and Cherokee Lumber, in the amount of $5,000 each.