Syracuse to reward cost-cutting employees

Oct 9 2011 - 11:11pm

SYRACUSE -- There will be financial incentives for city employees who find ways to help reduce costs.

A new employee cost- savings program was recently adopted by the city council on a unanimous vote. The plan could add up to more money for some city employees.

The policy encourages employees to provide cost- saving recommendations within their own departments and provides financial incentives should the recommendations result in a cost savings following a year of implementation.

The policy calls for a shared benefit of up to 20 percent of the cost saving, with an $8,000 cap on the maximum an employee may earn for a year.

All cost-saving initiatives and awards will be handled through a review committee, made up of the city finance director, the human resources director and a department director.

City Recorder Cassie Brown said she modeled the program after a similar one being used by Ogden city.

Council members spent some time in a work session discussing the merits of giving a percentage of the savings and whether the program should also provide some benefit in the second year of savings.

At the behest of Mayor Jamie Nagle, caps were put into place to limit how much an employee, or group of employees, could earn in any given year. She said the state of Utah has incentive programs in place, but also has caps.

The whole issue of whether incentives are appropriate also was discussed among council members.

"In the corporate world, if you saved a million dollars, you'd get a Lexus and a trip to Cancun. We can't do that," Nagle said.

Councilman Matt Kimmel expressed discomfort with the idea of providing incentives from tax dollars. He said no employee should expect a windfall from having a great idea.

Nagle and City Manager Bob Rice disagreed.

"What's there to motivate an employee to go above and beyond when they haven't had a raise in four years? What's the incentive?" Rice asked.

Incentives are already built into the 2011-12 fiscal year budget. In place of giving city employees a raise this year, council members voted to set aside of fund of $30,000 to reward employees who go above and beyond. At the same time, staff was asked to come up with a possible incentive program.

Brown said the program does not even use the $30,000 set aside this year. It will be funded from cost savings realized through new initiatives, put forth by city workers.

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