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City plans pay hike for council

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BY LINDELL JOHN KAY
Staff Writer

Monday, June 11, 2018

The Rocky Mount City Council will continue to receive a pay increase that began in January, according to the city’s proposed 2018-19 budget.

Salaries for city employees, including police and firefighters, will remain static.

The pay increase was set at $4,200 more annually for council members and $2,400 more annually for the mayor. In total, the mayor and seven council members earned $205,440 in fiscal year 2017-18, with the fiscal year 2018-19 proposed budget calling for $221,100. That's a 7.6 percent increase comparing the 2017-18 adopted budget and the 2018-19 proposed budget. The council earned $189,520 prior to January, marking an actual 17 percent increase from July 2017 to July 2018 if the proposed budget is adopted.

City Budget Manager Ken Hunter said the council approved the pay increases last budget season to take effect at the start of its new term in January. The council can only make adjustments in their compensation effective with the end and beginning of their two-year term periods.

The city's 2017-18 fiscal year adopted budget included funding for the increase, as it had been discussed during last year’s budget process, understanding it would only be effective for six months, Hunter said.

“At the time, council was undecided if the increase would be to their base pay or in the form of an allowance for technology, so it was appropriated in the fiscal year 2018 adopted budget as an allowance or benefit,” Hunter said. “In addition, we eliminated funding in the fiscal year 2019 proposed budget for the health insurance of one council member who is ineligible to receive city coverage, which helped.”

The net impact on combined salary and benefits of these changes for the fiscal year 2018-19 proposed budget, compared to the fiscal year 2017-18 adopted budget, is $15,680, which is an increase of 7.6 percent, Hunter said.

As far as police and firefighter salaries, Hunter said they were eligible for pay for performance increases. No cost-of-living adjustments were mentioned.

All salary and benefit calculations for all city employees are based on analysis of current filled and vacant positions, as well as review of positions during budget review with department heads, assistant city managers and the city manager, Hunter said.

“In FY 2018, all full-time employees were eligible for pay for performance increases, which are based on the results of their annual performance evaluation,” Hunter said. “Vacant positions are funded for the next year at their minimum, which results in savings compared to prior years when prior incumbents retire, resign or receive promotions to other positions.”

Staff turnover has an impact on budget allocations for employee longevity payments and associated benefits. Adjustments may also be made to reflect corrections from prior years and if departments intend to delay hiring a replacement position for a certain period of time in order to review job descriptions and assignments, Hunter said.

“As a result of these factors, individual department budgets for salary and benefits may or may not increase significantly when comparing the FY 2019 proposed budget to the FY 2018 adopted budget,” Hunter said.

While the backfield is in motion with the council calling for a revised spending plan, salaries weren't discussed as being on the chopping block. What was scrutinized by the council during a Friday workshop is the increase in funding for the city manager's office.

Changes are underway, but until they take affect, the current proposed budget for fiscal year 2018-19 calls for $112,500 salary for a third assistant manager position, moving the assistant auditor to full time at a cost of $48,000 and increases in salaries and benefits for newly hired positions for a total of $1.1 million, which is a difference of $256,030 over last fiscal year — a 29 percent jump.

Most of those proposed positions were spiked by the council in alternative scenarios to the current proposed plan.

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