Crestwood officials, Civil Service Board study how to tweak proposed pay plan

Previous plan repealed in ’07 because it was not affordable.

By EVAN YOUNG

Crestwood officials and the Civil Service Board want a pay plan that doesn’t guarantee raises for city employees but gives them a framework for when the city can afford to fund pay increases.

Board members and City Administrator Jim Eckrich discussed at a Civil Service Board meeting last month how to tweak a pay plan proposed by a committee of nine employees. The proposed plan is a six-step, length-of-service-based pay plan. The document includes starting salaries and yearly step increases for all positions.

It also provides for yearly adjustments to the starting salaries and step increases based upon the Consumer Price Index.

The city’s previous pay plan for employees was created in 2003 and repealed in 2007 because it no longer was affordable and had not been uniformly administered.

Eckrich has recommended that the Board of Aldermen adopt the proposed pay plan but hold off on any salary adjustments for the time being.

However, he said at last month’s Civil Service Board meeting that while he is inclined to have a pay plan, he questions whether having one that is unaffordable would be worse for employees than having none.

“I can’t argue with someone who says this is a waste of time, because realistically in the short-term … unless something changes, there’s no real legitimate chance of this being funded I don’t think,” Eckrich said.

Civil Service Board Chair Carol Wagner said, “I don’t either, but I don’t think that seeing it on paper is going to really make any difference to any of the employees that want to leave.

“But at any rate I think our employees are dedicated people and I think they’ve stuck here through thick and thin.”

The pay plan should be revised to establish a framework without specific salary amounts, Civil Service Board member Devin Sauer suggested.

That way, the city isn’t committed to certain numbers, but employees and Crestwood residents would know how the city would fund pay increases when it can afford them, he said.

“If the Board of Aldermen were to consider this, I think they may look upon it more favorably if you’re just simply asking them to adopt the framework and structure by which we could do this when it is economically feasible for the city,” Sauer said. “If these people worked as hard as I believe they did giving their input for this, they should be rewarded with the Board of Aldermen at least acknowledging that and taking a look at what they put together and determining whether or not that’s a framework they can live with.”

Noting the proposed 2011 Crestwood budget requires the use of reserves to balance it, Civil Service Board member Richard Breeding suggested the city not fund the pay plan until it is operating with revenues over expenditures.

“I think that’s a good process to start with,” the city administrator replied. “Until the plan is adopted, the city’s not going to consider salary increases until we can operate with annual revenues over expenditures.

“When revenues are over expenditures though, for me, it would be helpful if there were some sort of criteria to use …”

Sauer said, “I think what you have to have is a stopgap, a figure in the black — that figure being the benchmark where you have this stopgap ability for the board on a case by case basis to evaluate and what criteria they’re going to use.

“And then if you’re a certain level in the black that would accommodate implementation of the plan, then you would implement the plan,” the Civil Service Board member added.

Eckrich said, “To me that makes sense. We look at the budget in its entirety and say: Until we’re in the black we’re not going to consider any kind of employee compensation adjustment.”

“If we get in the black, we are going to consider employee pay adjustments based upon an across-the-board percentage raise unless we’re in the black by whatever figure I come up with, in which case the board will consider implementation of the pay plan that’s based upon this framework.”