City commission tables wage increase
By Jessica LeDuc
Blade staff writer
A 1.5 percent cost of living wage increase for all employees was tabled by the Concordia City Commission Wednesday night.
Rather than going ahead with an across the board 1.5 percent increase, the Commission opted to study a differentiated scale - giving hourly employees a 1.6 percent raise, department heads a 1.4 raise, and the city manager a 1.2 percent increase.
According to Finance Director Amber Farha, the 1.5-percent increase was already included in the 2014 budget.
"Given that there have been no major unforeseen overruns in expenses that will not be taken into account by bonding, there is adequate funding available for the 1.5-percent COLA (cost of living adjustment) and maintaining our reserves," Farha said in a memo to the Commission.
City Manager Larry Uri also presented information to the Commission, at the request of Charles Johnson, on the 1.5 percent increase being divided equally among all the employees, rather than proportionally according to each employee's salary. By taking an average of wages paid to the 55 city employees, each employee would receive a raise of $574 for the year if the raise was divided equally.
Johnson said the gap between what hourly employees are paid compared to department heads keeps getting larger.
"If you average the department heads and the hourly employees, the department heads get twice as much, and I don't think they contribute twice as much to the operations of the city," he said.
Commissioner Marsha Wentz said she disagreed with Johnson. "They (department heads) have the responsibility of all the employees - making sure they work and do their job, and that isn't easy," she said.
Christy Hasch said she partially agreed with Johnson, but did not fully agree with a set percentage increase for every employee. She said she had come up with an idea to give raises on a differential scale – 1.6 percent for salary employees, 1.4 for department heads and 1.2 percent for the city manager.
The total of raises would be less than what the Commission had budgeted for, she said.
"The people at the top of the scale are there because they have specialized training," she said, as to why department heads are paid more. "They have expertise and would be difficult to replace."
Mayor Tim Parker said he thought Johnson had made valid points. "I can see where we might do this occasionally, but I don't know that it needs to be done every single year," he said. "The numbers Christy threw out there seem fairly fair, but there does need to be a gap between the people at the top with the responsibility."
The Commission tabled the issue, and will review different rate structures for the raises before taking action at the Dec. 18 meeting.
In other business, the Commission approved an engineering contract with Professional Engineering Consultants for work the company will do to determine the best way to upgrade the wastewater treatment plant. In the near future, Uri said, the city will be required to remove nitrogen and phosphorous from the water it discharges into the Republican River. For $54,500 PEC will help the city find the best way to do that, as well as improve the electrical system at the plant.
The Commission also approved easements from the Kansas Department of Transportation for the flood control project. Uri said this was the last item to be resolved regarding property rights to build the 21st Street and Plum Road dams. The land where the Plum Road dam will be built is owned by KDOT, Uri said, and the city needs an easement from KDOT to build it. In addition, the city will receive a right to inundate property that is owned by KDOT in the event water goes over the top of either dam.
The yearly contract with Campbell and Johnson Engineers was also approved for $1,300 a month, which is a $100 increase over last year. Uri said it had been several years since Campbell and Johnson asked for an increase. The company is a constant valuable resource for the city, and is worth the money, Uri said.
During his manager's report, Uri said he had e-mailed representatives with the Federal Aviation Administration asking if city staff and Commissioners could meet with them regarding a pond at the 21st Street dam. At last month's meeting, Commissioner Lyle Pounds asked Uri to try to set up a meeting with the FFA, in the hopes that they could be convinced to allow the city to build a pond at the dam site.
Last night, Uri said the FAA's prompt answer was no.
"They said they didn't see any purpose for a meeting if it would involve us not meeting their requirements," Uri said. "Basically, they don't want to talk to us.
CIVIL Filed: BOKE, NA National Banking Association seeks a judgment of $34,126.86 plus interest from Billie Jean Rowland et al, Clyde. LIMITED CIVIL Settled: Discover Bank received a judgment of $1,373 and costs from Travis Schmidt, Concordia Central National Bank received... [More]
Police Dept. Report Theft—Alfredo Perez Jr., Concordia, reported a Theft at 10:25 p.m., Oct. 29, which had occurred in the 800 block of Russ Street. Investigation continues. Short Stop reported a Theft at 9:10 a.m. which had occurred in the 1000 block of Lincoln. Under... [More]
In an effort to curb the number of student loan defaults, the Cloud County Community College board of trustees approved entering into a $29,140 contract for default management services Tuesday night. Amy Lange, vice president for administrative services, told the board the college... [More]
LIBERAL — The Cloud County Community College volleyball team suffered a 3-1 defeat to Seward County in the regular season finale. Cloud County, 18-8 overall, finished 10-6 and in a three-way tie for third place in the Jayhawk Conference Western with Pratt and Seward County.... [More]
Converting on all five penalty kicks, and getting one save by goalkeeper Jesus Calderon, the Cloud County Thunderbirds escaped with a 5-4 victory over Pratt Community College in the opening round of the Region 6 Men's Soccer Playoffs Thursday afternoon at the Thunderbird... [More]
Ebola . . . still waiting for a cure A major part of the world is aware and concerned about Ebola and its possible spread. Africa, the potentially rich but historically mistreated continent, seems most vulnerable. For what they are worth, points listed with Google... [More]
“An unjust king asked a holy man, What is more excellent than prayer?' The holy man said, 'For you to remain asleep till midday, that for this one interval you may not afflict mankind.' ” It may seem strange but I'm beginning to believe that... [More]