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City wage study implementation causing more problems than solutions

by
Stevens Point Aldermen Michael O'Meara and President Jerry Moore
Stevens Point Aldermen Michael O'Meara and President Jerry Moore

STEVENS POINT, Wis. (WSAU) -- A city employee wage study hasn’t resolved compensation issues, in fact, it’s made some of them worse.

The Stevens Point City Council discussed the compensation study and recommendations from Carlson-Dettman, which they adopted in November. Aldermen had spent much of 2013 delaying action, looking for details from Carlson-Dettman on certain issues. The full council approved the plan without a committee recommendation. By January, they had several appeals filed by both hourly and salaried employees.

The pay plan created awkward scenarios, including where some police sergeants are paid more than assistant chiefs, and administrators like police and fire chiefs are paid considerably less than chiefs in similar communities.

Police Chief Kevin Ruder told the council he has stayed because of loyalty, but could have pursued similar work in Green Bay. Fire Chief Tracey Kujawa did not speak at the meeting, but she is one of the finalists for the Wausau Fire Chief position which would mean a considerable raise if she is hired.

President Jerry Moore reminded the council the economy isn’t that great, and many people making less than city employees can’t afford to pay any more right now.  “I have plenty of friends who, by their own choice, only make so much money. I don’t disrespect these people for the careers they have and all of that, but they are public employees, and the public pie only has so many dollars in it, and that’s the way it works. It’s pretty cut and dried. It’s not a political thing. It’s not a personal thing. It’s just a pure fact that there’s only so many dollars and they have to come from somewhere.”

The Council voted to stick to the plan they adopted, but to also seek the other comparable city figures previously omitted at their request. With that decision, the council asked Mayor Andrew Halverson to obtain the requested information from Carlson-Dettman and proceed with appeal reviews.

President Moore voted against the plan.  “We have a motion to go ahead with the employees that had discrepancies or wanted to challenge where they were placed. Well, that’s already in place. We don’t need a motion for that, and I don’t know that we really needed a motion to request a piece of information from Carlson-Dettman that we’ve already paid for, if in fact we’ve already paid for it, so that’s why I voted the way I did.”

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