City employees could see a 3 percent increase in their paychecks next week if the Killeen City Council approves the proposed increase tonight.
Although the majority of the council favors City Manager Glenn Morrison’s recommendation to implement an across-the-board increase, Councilman Jonathan Okray said he feels the council is “doing this blind.”
“I trust (the city manager) but I verify (facts), and I think that’s what we need to do,” he said. “I want to support it, but the empirical data that says we’re lagging behind other cities ... where is the evidence that supports that? We’ve been doing these comparisons to other cities, but we need to look at locale, also.”
The proposed 3 percent increase would cost the city approximately $547,000, which will come out of various city funds. The raise would be carried out through the end of the fiscal year (Sept. 30) and into the 2014-2015 fiscal budget, which begins Oct. 1.
“We implemented a number of programs this fiscal year that have increased efficiencies and resulted in cost savings,” Morrison said. “These were strategic measures that resulted in real savings that allow me to propose that we move forward now with adjusting employee compensation.”
Morrison said employees are paid out of various funds, so the proposed increase would come out of the appropriate funds.
He said the proposed hike in pay is not related to health insurance premiums.
Mayor Pro Tem Elizabeth Blackstone said she supports the raise.
“I’m going to vote to move forward because that was the recommendation of our city manager,” she said. “He said we have the money in the budget, so at this point I’m going to vote for it.”
Okray said another concern is the longevity of the increase.
“In the end we’ll pay more than $547,000. (We need to look at) the residents, the rate-payers. When was the last time they had a pay increase?” he said. “We certainly don’t have a crystal ball to say what is this going to do down the road. Is it going to cause the tax rate to have to rise in order to accommodate (the increase)?”
With the current fiscal year nearing its end, city staff would receive eight paychecks with the increase in the 2013-2014 fiscal year.
Morrison said employee compensation was discussed during the 2013-14 budget deliberations, but no pay adjustment was included, with Morrison telling the council he would bring the discussion back before them “at the appropriate time.”
“Preliminary results of the compensation study show that our employee compensation is below market comparisons,” he said. “Making this adjustment now better positions us to bring employee compensation in line with the market.”
The 3 percent increase, Morrison said, is just the “initial step,” with additional changes to be discussed and potentially added to the upcoming fiscal year’s budget.
Okray said he is in support of a 3 percent pay raise but not an across-the-board compensation increase because of the vast difference it makes for someone on the higher end of the pay scale versus an employee on the lower end.
With the proposed pay scale, a city clerk, who is on the lowest pay scale, would see an increase from $46 to $67 per month.
An assistant city manager, who is on the higher end of the pay scale, would garner an increase from $220 to $360 per month.
The council is set to vote at 5 p.m. today during its regular meeting at City Hall, 101 N. College St.
Contact Natalie Stewart at email@example.com or 254-501-7555