At last week’s City Council special budget workshop, Budget Manager Morgan Chegwidden and Director of Human Resources & Risk Management Lisa E. Marley rallied for better direction when initiating employee raises, and proposed an increase in employee health insurance premiums that won’t negatively impact city employees. The City of San Angelo self-insures its health insurance program.
City Council and members from the City Manager’s office will finalize the specifics of these two topics, amongst other important budget issues, Tuesday morning during the Regular Agenda session of the City Council meeting beginning at 9 a.m. at the McNease Convention Center, 501 Rio Concho Dr., in the South Meeting Room.
At last week’s budget session, Chegwidden presented the 2015-2016 fiscal budget breakdown of an $3,065,939 increase, and within that budget, $1,561,473 is devoted to marginal salary increases, and $457,379 will go to an increase in employer insurance contributions.
“The [salaries] number represents a 5.5 increase to the general population of employees and the fire department,” Marley said.
Additionally, Chegwidden said the insurance premium numbers presented are the City’s “most conservative estimation.”
“We still have to work through the parameters and the details to see what those premiums would look like for the employee and the employer,” she said.
In the past two years, the city implemented salary increases across the board to city employees because San Angelo’s “ranges have been in such a mess” that the city had no choice but to do so, Marley said to the Council.
Of the surveyed cities in Texas comparable in size, San Angelo ranks lower in pay range. The raises in the past two years places the city within approximately 89 percent within the standard range. Chegwidden is working hard to bring the city up to 95 percent.
“Surveyed cities on average give 3.3 percent increases annually. We only made up a 1.5 percent increase last year,” Marley said.
However, if the surveyed cities do the same this fiscal year, the 5.5 increase would put San Angelo at 90 percent within range, she stated.
In addition to improving the pay ranges, Marley implored the Council to give her department direction on how to implement the increases. She believes pay raises across the board have had a negative impact on employee reviews.
“I know it’s demoralizing for our employees who get ‘Exceeds’ on their evaluations, and they get the same raise as those who barely get by,” Marley said.
In 2012-13, 44 percent of employees had “Exceeds” and 55 percent “Met Expectations.” Only one employee got “Below Expectations.” There was no money connected with those numbers, so Marley believes those percentages are an actual representation of employee conduct.
After the across the board raises last year, however, only 31 percent of employees exceeded in job performance, and the number of those employees who met or scored below expectations increased.
Marley hopes with the Council’s direction, that will change.
“We hope raises will now be more performance driven,” Marley said. “Although [previous raises] were part of our effort to raise our ranges, many employees who exceeded expectations didn’t like that they got the same raises as those who barely met them.”
City Council Members agreed with Marley’s observation and motioned to vote for a better plan in the upcoming session.
“I don’t like percentage raises; I like evaluation raises,” Mayor Dwaine Morrison said. “That’s just my personal opinion, but I would like figures to be worked where they need to be worked.”
As for insurance premiums, city employees have not faced an increase in four years, which Marley said is “unheard of.”
Despite this, she, along with Chegwidden, would like the Council to approve a 12.6 increase to the city and a 4 percent to employees.
During her presentation last week, Marley said the budget team came up with three possible scenarios to deal with the increase in insurance premiums.
In the first and preferred scenario, the city would pay a 12.6 percent increase to employer contribution, and single coverage for employees would go from $13.20 to $16.50 per pay period. All other employees and retirees would see a 4 percent increase.
“Overall, this is the best deal for employees,” Marley said.
The second scenario includes a 10.6 percent increase to the city’s contribution, and single employee coverage would go from $13.20 to $20. All other employees would see a 10 percent increase.
As for the third scenario, the city would contribute 8.5 percent, and single employee coverage would go from $13.20 to $25. All other employees would pay a 15 percent increase.
“We think the 4 percent increase is the best for employees, but it’s a big amount for the city to take on. We hope we’ll be able to work through those numbers,” Marley said.
Marley said things look optimistic though based on the Council’s response to the presentation.
Council Member Rodney Fleming, Single-District 1 and Charlotte Farmer, Single-Member District 6, also preferred that scenario. However, Farmer wanted to ensure the increase wouldn’t overpower employee raises.
“I would really like to see, in dollars, a plan with the 1-2-3 options. I am concerned that when we get down to the raises and there’s not enough money to compute, we’re going to be costing the employees and wiping out their raises,” Farmer said.
Although she understands Farmer’s concern, Marley said the 4 percent increase in insurance premiums are not the same thing as a 4 percent increase in pay.
“It’s really a much smaller amount we’re talking about,” she said.
Overall, whatever happens in Tuesday’s session, both the City Manager’s budget team and the City Council hope to agree on the numbers that work best for employees and the city’s future, especially with 320 people eligible for retirement within the next 5 years. Out of those 320 people, 172 can retire today. Not to mention, there are a lot of job vacancies.
We are doing better,” Marley said. “We still have 20 positions open, but we’re seeing more and more applicants.”
These increase in applicants may be correlated with oil field layoffs, the Mayor said. Regardless, with those numbers, Marley said she hopes the Council will make the right choices this week.
“We really want to be more competitive as a city,” she said.
At Tuesday's City Council regular meeting held at the McNease Convention Center, 501 Rio Concho Drive, City Council unanimously voted to a 5.5 percent raise for city employees and the San Angelo Fire Department employees. The Council also agreed the raises would be "merit" raises rather than "across the board" raises.
The issue debated, however, is how those raises will be executed. Human Resources & Risk Management Lisa E. Marley suggested out of that 5.5 percent, or $1,561,473, those employees who receive an "Exceed" on their evaluations should receive a 6.25 percent raise while those who receive "Meets Expectations" should receive a 4.75 raise. Marley also asked to place San Angelo Fire Department employees closer to San Angelo Police Department officers who range a little higher in pay.
"I'm all for that," said Marty Self, SMD2. "However, quite frankly I don't think employees who simply get buy in their job should get that high of a raise."
Rodney Fleming, SMD1 and Mayor Dwain Morrison agreed.
Morrison stated he preferred a dollar amount rather than a percentage because he didn't like the idea that those individuals making close to $100,000 or more gets more of a raise than those employees who make $20,000.
"I just don't think that's right," he said.
However, City Manager Daniel Valenzuela said even those individuals who receive an annual salary of $80,000 or more get paid lower than people in the same positions in other Texas cities.
"Our goal is to raise salaries to attract and retain employees," Valenzuela said. "We have to keep the numbers as high as we can."
Valenzuela said he has had difficulty filling positions that require degrees because competitive prospects get better offers in other cities.
"It's very hard for us to get good people," he said.
On that note, the Council agreed to stick with a 5.5 percentage raise, but the logistics will be finalized at the next meeting. However, the amount for the raises was approved.
As for health insurance hikes, the Council unanimously agreed to pay $457,370, which will cover Option 1 proposed by Marley last week. The city will cover the 12.6 increase while a single-payer plan will go up to $16.50 per month. All other tiers, including retiree insurance plans, will go up by 4 percent.
Give them Raise and then charge em more for insurance. Sounds like a wash.
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..thing to do is put in a company store. Plus it would give the employees a really cool song to sing when they're out digging up roads.
ANY good supervisor would simply give all his employees outstandings considering what they wanna do with a the insurance increase.
Sorry COSA employees, bend over here it comes again.
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