Council Unites For Salisbury Employee Pay Raises

OCEAN CITY – One lone council voice of opposition turned toward favor this week as the City Council voted unanimously to give the final approval of three ordinances giving city employee raises.
The first ordinance on the table was to approve an amendment of the Fiscal Year 2014 (FY14) General Fund budget to adjust the city’s pay plan with new rates assigned to grades and steps. The city’s current budget will be amended to include the new pay plan to be effective on Jan. 11, 2014.
The second ordinance was to approve an amendment to the FY14 General Fund Budget to adjust position grade assignments and the third ordinance was to approve an amendment of the FY14 General Fund, Water Sewer Fund, and parking budgets to appropriate funds to cover increases in employee compensation.
Implementing employee raises and how to fund them have been discussed at several work sessions. There has been more or less universal agreement on the council that city employees are in need of a raise, especially following the recent results of a pay study that found Salisbury employees well below their counterparts in multiple compensation categories.
The total cost for the pay raise for this fiscal year will be $375,576 with roughly $232,000 attributed to the general fund, $141,341 to water and sewer and the remaining approximately $2,200 to the parking fund.
That will cover the initial stage in the planned employee pay increase which will fix compression issues and tweak step increases. If the council wishes to follow Evergreen’s suggestions and bring city employees more in line with what their market value is for other municipalities and the private sector, that decision will be part of the budget process for next year.
A couple of weeks ago, Councilwoman Terry Cohen voted against the ordinances due to concern over how the raises would be funded beyond this fiscal year.
“I am going to support this this evening,” Cohen said. “I would like to thank Mr. Cordrey [Director of Internal Services] that he passed along to help answer the questions that I had last time. My take is that if there were ever a time to do it, this is the time to seize the day based on the figures Mr. Cordrey sent. To the city employees, I know you all have been patient and the rock in terms of getting us through the recession. I want you to know the concern about your situation has been with the council for some time.
Cohen reminded city employees had saved the city $400,000 in workman’s compensation costs and last year the former City Council majority of Cohen, former Councilwoman Debbie Campbell and Councilman Tim Spies were in favor of giving employee bonuses but there was no fourth vote to carry the motion through. At the time, the council was divided in providing a bonus or saving the surplus to go toward a pay study.
“I wanted to let you know, keep up the good work because this type of thing is what helps keep the city overall afloat and able to keep the jobs that we are talking about let alone raise pay,” Cohen said.
Once all ordinances had been approved, Interim City Administrator Tom Stevenson thanked the council.
“I have had the great privilege of being employed by the City of Salisbury for a number of years now. I have been here through the good and the bad and I wanted to first of all say thank you to Mr. Cordrey and staff for all the hard work they put into preparing this information for City Council and getting it to you for this evening,” Stevenson said. “Quite a number of hours went into this work but most importantly I wanted to, on behalf of all the fine men and woman that work for the City of Salisbury, I say thank you for agreeing to do this for us and recognizing how important we are … This means a lot to us…and I pledge to you and the citizens of Salisbury you will see a great return in investment.”