Finance Committee members favored a 2 percent salary increase over a $1,000 salary adjustment as a raise for full-time city employees on Tuesday night.
“To me, the percentage is the fairest way to go,” said Alderman Mike Neal.
The difference between the two is who gets the lion’s share of the money. Giving a percentage means higher paid employees would get a larger pay increase than lower paid employees, while giving each employee the same salary adjustment would give lower paid employees a larger percent increase than higher paid employees.
“I feel the same way,” said Alderman Ben Newman. “I think, in theory, there are some good points to a salary adjustment. However, someone who just started and has not put in the time, the education and the extra training will get the same amount as someone who has been here longer. I think it’s better to reward folks who have been here longer.”
A salary adjustment of $1,000 was recommended by Alderman Ken Smith who says the city is top heavy when it comes to salary because 42 employees are making $45,000 a year or more, while the remaining 105 are making $45,000 a year or less.
By city records, 14 employees are making over $55,000 a year, 28 are making between $45,000 and $55,000, 59 are making between $35,000 and $45,000, and 46 are making between $25,000 and $35,000.
Smith says the city is losing lower paid employees who seek employment elsewhere.
“I recently talked to McMinnville Police Chief Bryan Denton,” said Smith. “He lost two policemen this year, or maybe it was the end of last year. They went to the sheriff’s department because it pays more. As I understand it, they are young policemen. The county’s benefits are not nearly as good as our benefits. However, if you aren’t married and you are in your 20s, all you are looking for is how much you get paid on Friday.”
Denton, in attendance at the meeting, said one of the officers left because he had been with the department three years and he was making the same as a newly hired officer.
“He had been here three, maybe four years, and he was making the exact same as a fellow who had been in the department three months because he wasn’t able to advance,” said Denton. “We put a Master Patrol Program in place to try and counter that. Still, there are experience requirements and training for that and it takes time to get those.”
Newman suggested the city look into what can be done about the police department’s pay scale to make it more equivalent to that of the sheriff’s department.
When it comes to a salary increase, Neal suggested a 2-percent increase for all full-time employees.
“I was thinking the same thing,” said Newman.
Neal and Newman voted in favor of 2 percent. Smith added, “I’ll go along with it.”
The 2-percent increase includes 1.45 percent as a cost-of-living adjustment to match inflation over the last 12 months and a .55 percent as a raise.
The measure will be sent to the full board for its consideration.