The Platteville Common Council included 2-percent and 1-percent pay raises for hourly city employees, plus merit pay increases for salaried full-time employees, as part of the 2014 budget.
Approving the resolution to authorize the pay increases, however, took up one-fifth of the Dec. 10 Common Council meeting.
The first question that came up, from District 4 Ald. Ken Kilian, was how a pay increase for City Clerk Jan Martin would be paid for.
City Manager Larry Bierke said the pay increase negotiated with Martin would be paid for out of funds designated for merit pay increases.
Kilian then made a motion to include pay increases for eight permanent part-time staff, totaling almost $4,700.
“The non-staff people are not caught up yet; now we’re talking about merit pay increases for staff,” said Kilian, who said the city was “treating one group better than the other group.”
Common Council President Eileen Nickels said full-time hourly staff had their hours reduced in 2012, while part-time employees did not have hours reduced.
Kilian’s proposal would have added pay increases for part-time Platteville Senior Center, city manager office, police, fire and EMS employees.
District 3 Ald. Barb Daus said Kilian’s proposal gave raises to some part-time employees but not others.
“And I’d like to see a proposal that includes where the salary [increases] could come from,” said Daus, who opposed taking part-time pay increases from the merit pay pool.
At-large Ald. Mike Denn proposed using the money the city will not be using to apply for the All-America City Awards, an estimated $5,000.
The vote on Kilian’s proposal got as far as District 1 Ald. Barb Stockhausen and at-large Ald. Dick Bonin before they withdrew their Yes votes because of the requirement to change the city budget, which would have required a second motion. Kilian then proposed the pay increases without specifying how they’d be funded.
“I’m trying to wrap my head around a circumstance where you agree to spend money but you don’t have any money to spend,” said City Attorney Brian McGraw. “If it’s not in the budget, I guess you could say we’re going to spend it but we don’t have any money authorized to pay for it.”
“It’s saying that in the future we could bring it up and figure out where the money would come from,” said Kilian.
“Well, what happens if you decided in the future that you couldn’t decide?” asked McGraw. “You’d say you were spending it, but you didn’t have the money, because you never allocated it because you couldn’t reach an agreement on that. … It’s not in the budget right now, so it’s not funded. … Eventually, that account will be run out. You wouldn’t run out Jan. 1, but you probably would later in the year.”
At-large Ald. Patrice Steiner disagreed with part-time pay increases “at the last minute” outside the budget process.
The part-time pay increase amendment, voted on the second time, failed 5–2, with Stockhausen and Kilian voting yes.
The original resolution passed 6–1, with Kilian opposed.