Koenigs questions wage adjustments for city department heads; favors fixed percentage adjustments only
In a recent City Council meeting, council member Don Koenigs questioned the rationale of additional increases on top of the percentage increases budgeted for department head salaries.
The fiscal year 2013 budget was adopted June 11 with wage increases for management staff. Petersburg City Manager Stephen Giesbrecht put forth a plan that consisted of pay increases for individuals ranging from two to four percent. In addition, some management positions receive a one-time flat rate increase to bring the salaries up to standard for the actual work and responsibilities performed in the positions.
“I don’t believe the details of these wage increases and adjustments were disclosed during the making of the budget,” Koenigs said. “We need to know how much we are spending on payroll and benefits.”
With the two to four percent increases, some management positions will also see adjustments in the amounts of $2,000 to $4,000.
“It is my feeling that the wage increases should proceed,” Koenigs said. “But, we should suspend the adjustment portion until further information is provided.”
Koenigs explained that a detailed comparison should be provided showing the differences and similarities with other communities, municipalities as well as entities in the public sector.
“We do compare our salaries across the state,” Petersburg City Clerk Kathy O’Rear stated. “We provide our salaries to this statewide comparison as well and Petersburg is right where it should be with the size of the community and the positions.”
O’Rear also explained that Petersburg is a little different because the managers and department heads here usually have more responsibility than other comparable places in the southeast and statewide.
“These adjustments are being made to make up for the fact that our department heads have not had a rate increase since 2009,” Petersburg City Manager Stephen Giesbrecht stated. “This is my attempt to rectify that oversight.”
Koenigs also explained that he had a feeling that the recent adoption of rate increases for utilities are in direct correlation to these adjusted wage increases.
“At this time, I can only support the set percentage increase,” Koenigs said. “I believe there should be more objectivity before implementing wage adjustments.”
This wage increase plan was approved with a four to one vote with Koenigs opposing.
“I believe department heads should receive larger adjustments because of their level of responsibilities and level of performance,” Council Member Rick Braun said. “This adjustment is more than worth it.”
Koenigs also commented on the fact that the city manager performance review will be within this budget.
“Is there money budgeted for the possibility of giving the city manager an increase when his review comes up?” Koenigs asked.
Giesbrecht answered, “No, there isn’t, but if I do my job, there will be money in the budget in which the council can discuss it in the future. If I don’t, then there won’t be any money there. These wage increases were a more important issue at this time.”