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Stevens Point committee wants more data on pay plan, forwards to full council

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STEVENS POINT, Wis. (WSAU) -- The final decision on whether or not to implement a new pay plan for City of Stevens Point employees will be decided by the full city council next week. Implementing a new pay plan has been delayed by committee inaction, partly because committee members haven’t seen the numbers behind the pay study they would like from Carlson-Dettman, the firm that studied pay levels and compared them to similar cities.

After a great deal of discussion, Personnel Committee members requested specific pay grade information about comparable cities from Carlson-Dettman and sent the entire issue to the city council without a committee recommendation.

Chairman Michael O’Meara is satisfied with that course of action, saying they need to make a decision and can’t continue to kick the can down the road. “I think tonight, we made real progress. The people said exactly what they needed. A lot of this is communication. What do I need to make a decision so that I think I’m being fair to our employees and to the citizens of Stevens Point?”

Council President Jerry Moore believes the information they need from Carlson-Dettman should have already been in their hands. “I just don’t know that it’s ready yet. If they would have been upfront and honest and open with all of the information and how they came to these conclusions from the get-go, this would all be settled by now.”

The study shows Stevens Point employees have a handful of employees at the lower and entry levels that are paid more than the average, but several management level staffers that are not paid like their counterparts in other cities.

Steve Lewis spoke against the new pay plan, pointing out that truck drivers could possibly go seventeen years without a pay raise since they are now at 120% of the average. He told city leaders that before the pay plan, “You could pick the best of the best, and with this, you pick the best of the worst.”

Street Department employee Kenny Rozak told the committee the pay plan figures caused a lot of tension in the shop when they realized most staff might go three or four years without a raise while supervisors might see yearly raises.

Mayor Andrew Halverson says the council has tough choices, but those choices would have been even tougher without Wisconsin Act 10, because that would have led to layoffs. “You have to ultimately ask yourself, you know, if I’m looking at a scenario where I might not be able to give people raises that even, myself, feel they deserve, but I know I can preserve several other positions, isn’t that better for those families? Isn’t that better for the citizens and taxpayers that continue to demand high quality, efficient, and effective public services? That’s ultimately what Act 10 did.”

Charlie Carlson from Carlson-Dettman has seen this before, and knows the city council has to choose what direction to go with the study he’s presented. “I don’t like coming up with a pay plan that recommends that employees have a pay freeze for a period of time. I also don’t want to see people lose their jobs, and so I think we’ve laid the options out in front of the council. I think they’re going to be able to make a very clear choice. I doubt that it will be a unanimous choice, but we’ll see.”

Police Chief Kevin Ruder says the city staff, including several quality department heads and managers need the city to make their decision. “We just need to do something. I think you owe it to all of the employees. You’ve got to look at some of the labor positions, sure, but we need to do something. We can’t just be sitting here doing nothing and spinning our wheels. You owe it to the 130 employees that are out here right now.”

The city’s pay plan will be back before the city council for the last time next Monday.

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