Albertville Council Continues to Debate Proposed Wage Increase for Staff

City leaders are saying a wage increase would help with staff retention. The council, however, is concerned about the message a raise for staff would send to the community.

The Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) for city employees continues to be a big part of Albertville budget discussions.

The council must have their levy amount voted on at their first September meeting, currently scheduled for Sept. 6. Which means crunch time has begun.

Council member Larry Sorenson outlined the actual budget increase when factoring in the addition of hours, COLA and step increases to be $52,500. The current proposed levy would be 2.29 percent.

“Let’s meet in the middle and get the levy amount down to about 1.9%,” Sorenson suggested.

“We need to be consistent. I’m concerned about our core services and employee needed to keep the city running. And I’m not sure about hockey,” Mark Meehan said towards Sorenson who, at the previous meeting, had asked the council to decide what the goal would be–as the increases in wages, steps and COLA would be comparable to an amount they had previously suggested putting towards hockey.

“I didn’t say anything about hockey tonight,” Sorenson responded to Meehan, “and I’m ok with no hockey money in the 2012 budget.”

Council member Dan Wagner quickly agreed with Sorenson.

“As much as I’d like to contribute to hockey, I just can’t right now,” he said.

The budget proposal put together by city staff proposes a 3 percent COLA increase for all city employees including the fire department. The proposal also includes bringing staff who’s hours have been at 75 percent time up to 85 percent time (FTE) and also the second to last STEPS for four city employees, Tina Lannes, Tim Guimmond, Bridget Miller and Mike Jenkins.

Council member Jill Schommer was curious about the STEP process. “Is this related to performance or is this just a given?”

“Everyone is meeting their annual goals,” City Administrator Larry Kruse shared. “Market wage/rate is important so that we don’t train our employees and then have them leave for another city.”

“I want to keep our staff,” Wagner said, “but I’ve asked businesses, and no one is doing a COLA increase. If the private sector isn’t doing it, why is the public?”

The council continued to crunch numbers looking at different equations of lowering the COLA increases with and without steps in order to find a happy medium. More discussion is expected following the regular council meeting on Monday, Aug. 15. All meetings are open to the public.

Schommer questions “animal control” line item

As the city of Albertville goes through their budget proposal for 2012, the council is looking for ways to keep their already lean budget leaner. Council member Schommer asked about animal control at Monday night’s meeting. The 2011 budget was $45,00 and the proposed 2012 budget is $5,600 for this expense.

“Do we have to do this? Are there any cities that do nothing?” Schommer asked

“We don’t have to provide the service,” city attorney Mike Couri explained, “but if we do, we must keep them in a humane way for seven days after they are caught.”

He further explained that there are no cities he’s aware of not providing this service.

Currently, the city pays for the animal to be caught, then 7 days of boarding and then to have the animal euthanized. If an animal is picked up by its owner, the owner is responsible for the fees. There is a minimal fee the city is charged for catching the animals (around $25). It’s the fee for boarding that gets expensive, Couri said.



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