Council OKs raisesJamestown city employees can anticipate a bump in salaries starting in 2013. The City Council approved including in the budget pay raises totaling 4.5 percent for most municipal workers during a special budget meeting Monday.
By: Keith Norman, The Jamestown Sun
Jamestown city employees can anticipate a bump in salaries starting in 2013. The City Council approved including in the budget pay raises totaling 4.5 percent for most municipal workers during a special budget meeting Monday.
The pay increase amounts to a 2 percent cost-of-living raise on the first of the year and a 2.5 percent step increase on the anniversary of employment. The motion passed unanimously although there was concern about the amount of the increase.
“I don’t know of many businesses giving 5 percent raises,” said Steve Brubakken, city councilman.
Jamestown Mayor Katie Andersen saw the wage increase as necessary to keep good employees.
“Not a lot of businesses are able to give big raises,” she said. “But we want to maintain good employees.”
The cost of the increase was not available at the meeting and would be recalculated along with other budget changes. The city’s salary schedule includes 13 steps and not all employees will be eligible for a step increase.
In addition, the city will cover more health insurance costs for employees on single plus dependent and family plans.
The city currently pays all the health insurance costs of a single policy for all employees. The employees then pay all additional costs for the single plus dependent of family policies. The City Council voted to keep the withholding rates for insurance the same for 2013 despite insurance costs increasing by about $14,000.
In other action, the City Council agreed to continue to provide $7,500 per year to the Jamestown Chamber of Commerce Beautification Committee. The organization operates programs like the yard of the week and provides funding for the flower planters placed along some city streets.
“It is my belief we shouldn’t fund programs outside city government,” Andersen said. “We have the city forester to handle these programs.”
Beautification committee members felt that the current system works well.
“The city forester gives us directions,” said Paulette Ritter, member of the beautification committee. “Volunteers get the work done.”
The motion to fund the committee passed on a 3-2 vote with Charlie Kourajian, Dan Buchanan and Brubakken in favor and Andersen and Ramone Gumke opposed.
The council also decreased the funding for the Arts Center. The Arts Center requested $10,000 for the 2013 budget. It had received $10,000 per year up until 2011 when it was cut to $5,000.
“The point of government subsidy is to get something up and going,” Gumke said. “I think arts improve things but the taxpayer dollars should be used somewhere else.”
A motion to provide $2,500 to the Arts Center passed unanimously.
Tuesday’s actions concluded budget hearings for the general fund. The City Council scheduled a special meeting for 3:30 p.m. Sept. 6 at City Hall to discuss the utility fund budgets.
Sun reporter Keith Norman can be reached at 701-952-8452 or by email at email@example.com