Final Consideration of City Pay Plan Slated for Monday
Left, Stevens Point Police Assistant Chief Marty Skibba (right) talks with city employees Monday night after a discussion on the city’s pay plan at the Lincoln Center. (City-Times photo)
“Before Act 10, city workers often had the power of unions to back them up. That isn’t the case anymore.” -Charlie Carlson
By Donnelly Clare
In what is expected to be a highly- attending meeting, the Stevens Point Common Council Monday night will consider implementing a new pay plan for city workers.
The new pay plan was submitted by consulting firm Carlson Dettman, a Madison-based company which through a detailed matrix determined many city employees were underpaid when compared to public and private sector counterparts in other municipalities. Of the 11 steps in the city’s pay plan, step six is considered the average pay for cities of comparable size and demographic. Many management- level city workers, according to the study’s findings, are 12 percent below step one.
Some city workers have objected to the pay study, which show some non-managerial positions being overpaid as much as $6,000 a year and could potentially go without a raise for the foreseeable future.
“Before Act 10, city workers often had the power of unions to back them up. That isn’t the case anymore,” said Charlie Carlson from Carlson Dettmann. “We’re living in a post- Act 10 world now, and it’s an adjustment- to say the least- for people who once had that collective bargaining power.”
Stevens Point Mayor Andrew Halverson said he understands the concerns from city workers, but the city has to spread its financial resources to as many of the underpaid workers as possible, which includes a greater focus on management for now. One management position, the city’s Public Works Director- currently held by Scott Schatschneider- was found to be underpaid by just over $18,000.
“Rather than turning it into some workers getting short end of the stick, I look at it like this: historically some city workers have been getting paid significantly well vis-à-vis their comparables out there in the public and private sector,” said Halverson. “What Act 10 has been able to accomplish, I think, has really opened some minds. I think it’s challenged some commonly- held beliefs that somehow governments should be looking only at other governments for comparables. I don’t think that’s fair.”
Halverson added an employee’s salary is only part of the city’s expense for each worker.
“Some employees need to be gently reminded it isn’t just about salary- it’s about total compensation,” he said, talking about the city’s benefits package offered to city workers. “When you look at total compensation, we’re looking at well over $80,000 a year for a lot of these city employees, so yes, I would challenge a truck drive, a pavement worker, or any other city worker who is out there to compare their wages with those in the private sector; they might be surprised.”
The City Council has debated the merits of the pay study, which will cost nearly $115,000 and is already included in the 2014 proposed city budget, with many alders questioning the process used to determine the pay structure. Carlson told the Council that much of the information used for the pay study was “intellectual property” of his company and was not meant for consumption by the Council or the public.
The city’s Personnel Committee on November 11 agreed to forward to plan to the full Council without recommending for or against implementing the new pay structure.
A special meeting of the Common Council will begin Monday, Nov. 18 at 5:30 for alderpersons to further discuss the pay plan. The Council will take public comments into considering during that meeting, held in the Council Chambers of the city’s courthouse, 1516 Church Street.