ROY — The city council will be taking a close look at employee wages and benefits in the next few months.
The council is concerned it is not paying employees enough and wants to know where it stands compared to other communities and other areas, so it plans to conduct an in-depth salary survey.
The issue was raised at a recent city council meeting when the city’s Justice Court Judge Scott Waterfall approached the council about his wages and the wages of the employees in his department. Waterfall said if the city doesn’t start paying more for its court clerks, they will continue to leave, and the work can’t get done with a short staff.
“It’s not just the court system we are worried about. It’s all of our employees,” City Councilman Willard Cragun said. The real bottom line for the council is that if raises are needed, where will the money come from?
City Councilman Dave Tafoya said the answer is simple — if the city needs to pay employees more, it will at some point have to raise taxes.
“It’s just that simple,” Tafoya said. He didn’t say he was an advocate for it, but it’s something the city will have to look at.
The council plans to discuss the issue in detail at its Jan. 8 work session at 6 p.m. in Hope Community Center. The council would like to do a salary survey and get some outside sources to help evaluate the current wages of employees as compared to other government entities. The benefits package is also something to be examined, Cragun said.
Waterfall said salary surveys don’t always end up with results that say the employees should get raises; sometimes they say just the opposite.
City Councilman Brad Hilton said he doesn’t like that good employees are leaving to find employment elsewhere, especially in other cities.
“Good, knowledgeable people are leaving because we can’t pay what they think they are worth,” Hilton said.
The suggestion was made that conversations need to be held with employees to see what they think they are worth, as well as to see how happy they are with the city.
“This city has run lean for a very long time,” Cragun said. For the last couple of years, the city has given bonuses to employees twice a year rather than cost-of-living raises.
The bonuses have been given so if the city doesn’t have the money in years following, it isn’t locked into cost-of-living raises.
Finance Director Cathy Spencer said revenues are better than they have been in the past couple of years, but are not where they were five years ago.
She is projecting them to continue to rise in 2013, but there is no guarantee of how high that will be.