Washington Evening Journal
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Neighbors Growing Together | Apr 24, 2014

Wage increases draw discussion and questions

By Xiomara Levsen | Jul 18, 2013

RIVERSIDE — At the city council meeting on Monday, July 15, the council passed a resolution approving a cost of living increase for city employees.

The resolution went into effect on July 1, said city employee Becky LaRoche. LaRoche was excluded from the resolution because she is in her first six months of employment, which is the probationary period, she said.

Before the resolution was passed there was discussion about how much the wage increase should be and whether or not it should be performance based.

Councilor Chris Kirkwood motioned for an increase of 2.4 percent. She said she didn’t feel the wage increase should be higher than the cost of living.

City administrator Rusty Rogerson said the city budget allowed for wage increases for up to 5 percent in fiscal year 2013-14 fiscal year. However, he said the budget hasn’t had one that high for a while.

“I reviewed the history of the city council and nine out of the past 10 years it’s been a cost of living increase,” Riverside city administrator Rusty Rogerson said. “You do not have a performance base for evaluation.”

When this was said two local residents requested to speak to the council about the increase. Diane Poch, wife of Bill Poch, said the 2.4 percent wasn’t really an increase that rewarded city employees for doing a good job. She said the 5 percent should be considered by the council because of all the hard work the city employees have done.

B. Poch clarified what the increase was for.

“I want to kind of set the record straight,” B. Poch said. “This is not really a wage increase. Everybody has done a job well done. I’m not arguing that point but it’s not a wage increase, which it is a wage increase. It’s a cost of living increase.”

Local resident Paula Walton didn’t agree with just doing the cost of living. She asked the council what incentive this would give the city’s employees to keep working there, if they’re never given merit raises.

“There’s no reward system and unfortunately just keeping even in this day and age really isn’t enough,” Walton said. “I think we’re doing a disservice to the people that work for the community.”

She asked the council to consider looking at the wage increase policy and changing it to include performance base increases.

After Walton spoke, Engel addressed the council.

“What do we have to do to get a merit raise then?” Engel asked. “If all we’re ever going to get is the cost of living?”

Rogerson said the city needed to established a pay scale for its employees ranging from minimum to maximum. He said the only way the top pay range would change would be with a cost of living increase.

“I’ve looked everywhere here and there’s never been a pay range for positions,” Rogerson said.

Engel said he remembered a previous city clerk looking into establishing a pay range but the previous council couldn’t agree so it didn’t happen.

Councilor Bob Schneider Jr. asked if there was going to be a performance review done for Rogerson and Young. Kirkwood said this was a separate issue.

B. Poch said the performance review for those two wasn’t on the agenda and wasn’t in the resolution. He said it should be put on the agenda in the future.

Councilor Nate Kasdorf, Kevin Kiene, and Kirkwood agreed with B. Poch and said Rogerson’s and Young’s performance review needed to go on the next agenda.

The resolution passed with no dissenting votes.

The employees receiving the cost of living increase are Kevin Engel, Ron Hembrey, Bryan Lenz, Rusty Rogerson, Lory Young, and two employees from the congregate meal program in Lone Tree.

Other items covered at the city council meeting included:

hearing a city utilities update from water and wastewater employee Ron Hembley;

awarding a contract of $7,569.40 to Kelly Excavation for the storm water repairs on Glasglow Street;

passing a commercial grant request from Kucera Systems for $5,000 to replace an overhead door;

approving the transfer of funds between sewer and water for loan repayment;

and setting a date for Pat Callahan’s return in August. The council suggested a work session be held before the city council meeting on Aug. 19

The next city council meeting will be held on Aug. 5.

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