More pay raises?

Published 12:00 am Friday, June 1, 2007

Thirteen city employees request increases



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The administrative committee of the Selma City Council will meet to decide what to do about more than a dozen requests for pay raises that Mayor James Perkins Jr. said came in the aftermath of a recent pay hike granted to the council’s secretary.

Perkins said the requests were forwarded to him from department heads, and Tuesday night he handed them over to the City Council. Administrative committee chairman Councilman Cecil Williamson, and committee members Councilman Johnnie Leashore and Councilwoman Janie Venter have set Monday at 5:30 p.m. at City Hall as their next meeting.

The administrative committee will make recommendations to the City Council, which must approve any pay increase.

The mayor has veto power and may overturn the council’s decision.

However, the council – as it attempted to do in the case of the recent mayoral veto of the council secretary’s pay raise –

can overturn the veto with a two-thirds vote.

“These requests have come in since the council granted a raise to its secretary,” Perkins said. “I’ve forwarded them to the council.”

Williamson, who has been at odds with Perkins over numerous budget issues, said he opposes some of the increases.

“Some of the raises are outrageous and are recommended for people who, in my opinion, are already overpaid,” Williamson said.

City officials say the public discussion and a raise for its secretary – who they said had not had a pay increase in years – resulted in the 13 recent requests from employees for raises.

The initial raise for the secretary was set at $31,000 a year, but council members compromised on a figure of $28,000. The employee had been paid $24,000 a year. The job title was changed from “secretary” to “administrative assistant.”

Council President George Evans said he knows the requests for pay increases are a direct result of the council secretary’s recent pay raise. He said it was too early to tell how they will handle 13 increases, or where the funds would come from.

“Where it’s going to go, I don’t have a clue,” Evans said. “I thought it (new requests) could have waited. But I guess people will say our secretary’s raise could have waited.”

Valeria Jones, human resources director, said the city adopted a pay plan in December 2005, which was done by a consultant. It governs employee compensation by classification, and includes 14-step plan increases. One problem with that is some employees outpace the plan by loyalty – staying on the job for more than 20 years.

Those employees only receive raises across the board, or cost of living increases.

“When an employee reaches that point, their choices are limited. If their duties have changed, their position can be reclassified. Or, they’ll have to apply for a higher level position,” Jones said of an employee seeking additional pay.

Unclassified employees are salaried and “are month to month,” Jones said.

The mayor appoints them. Classified employees are on the merit plan.

Jones said there may have to be some overhaul of the entire pay plan system, which would include looking at each employee and making determinations on a case by case basis. For example, the city clerk’s position was salaried at $44,500 a year – 10 years ago. The current clerk’s annual salary is $41,900. In 2002-2003 the clerk’s salary was $52,800 a year.