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Raises for supervisors pass, fringes opposed

SALEM

January 18, 2012
By MARY ANN GREIER , Salem News

City council members Cyndi Baronzzi Dickey and Rick Drummond cast the lone no votes against two ordinances to bring wages and fringe benefits for non-union employees in line with what union employees received last fall.

One of the ordinances, dealing with wages, was approved 5-2 for all three readings with the emergency clause, giving wage increases to supervisory department managers, management employees and administrative employees similar to what union workers received.

Dickey had also opposed the suspension of statutory rules on that ordinance, but with six votes in favor, the rules were suspended to allow all three readings Tuesday night.

The second ordinance, dealing with the fringe benefits, such as medical, life and dental insurance, longevity payments, overtime, holidays, sick leave and vacations, had its first reading only.

Both Dickey and Drummond voted against the suspension of statutory rules to have all three readings at once on that ordinance. Since suspension of rules requires six affirmative votes, council could only have first reading.

"I don't want to rubber-stamp a fringe benefits package that is disproportionate to the private sector's benefits," Dickey said when asked about her no vote.

Drummond noted that they didn't participate in the discussion of the ordinances, which were brought up during a finance committee meeting late last year. He also said he ran on a platform of fiscal responsibility.

City council last fall approved four union contracts with bargaining units representing police, fire, utilities and service workers which included wage increases of 4 percent in 2012, 3 percent in 2013 and 3 percent in 2014, but also required employees to pay a portion of their share of the mandatory 10 percent pension payment.

See VOTE, 5A

At the end of the three years, employees will be paying 100 percent of their share, or the full 10 percent.

The city had been paying the employee share of the 10 percent, but the new contracts called for employees to pay 4 percent of the 10 percent retroactive to July 1, 2011, then 7 percent beginning July 1, 2012 and then the full 10 percent by July 1, 2013. The pension pickup offset the wage increases.

For health insurance, employees were paying7 percent of the premiums, but with the new contracts, they started paying 11 percent and they also had to start paying deductibles, going from zero to $200 for a single plan and zero to $400 for a family plan.

The ordinances for the non-union employees introduced Tuesday covered the same ground for wages and benefits. Prior to the vote on the wages ordinance, Dickey questioned the pay for the law director's clerk, saying it looked like the clerk was paid for 30 hours per week each week regardless. She asked how many hours she actually puts in for the city and Law Director Brooke Zellers said she put in about 45 hours this past week. Then Dickey questioned about the number of hours during holiday weeks. Zellers said that's how it's always been.

"It seems like it doesn't come out even," Dickey said.

She also pointed out that they're new and "we don't always have to do things the way they've been done."

Zellers defended the work of his clerk, saying she deals with all the departments, with lawsuits against the city and many things behind the scenes, noting the vast majority of her time is over 30 hours per week.

Councilman Brian Whitehill said when council gets into the budgeting process, they usually go through everything line by line and there will be more decided then.

Dickey then raised questions about how much work the assistant law director does for the city, with Zellers explaining how she does the bulk of the legal research and criminal cases for the city.

A resolution dealt with establishing a step-down fringe benefit plan and step-up salary reduction plan for certain non-bargaining employees for their retirement contributions, with the employees required to pay 5 percent of the 10 percent this year, 7.5 percent next year and all 10 percent in 2014. The resolution was approved with a 7-0 vote for all three readings with the emergency clause.

Council also approved ordinances dealing with the pension pickups for the police and fire chiefs and the police administrative lieutenant and to allow the service/safety director to advertise for bids for buying gasoline, diesel, traffic paint and road salt.

Mary Ann Greier can be reached at mgreier@salemnews.net

 
 

 

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