Bridgeport council to revisit staff salary resolution

Council member Matt Schuh, with council member Eric Schmidt in the background.
“We have, right at this point, the best working crew and staff in knowledge and hard working,” said Conklin. “I couldn’t ask for a better crew.”

BRIDGEPORT – A request by city employees for a 50-cent an hour across-the-board raise in salaries was a topic of primary discussion by council members at their regular monthly meeting last Wednesday, Nov. 15.
The city Budget Committee comprised of council members Phil Lee and Jackie Hentges had taken annual raises under advisement and reported back to council with a recommendation of 1.5 percent based on the state cost-of-living allowance (COLA). Their recommendation was incorporated into Resolution 17-11 and approved by council.
“That comes out to a little less than 50 cents across-the-board,” Lee said.
In contrast, the 50-cent raise would amount to an increase from 1.7 to three-percent depending on an employee’s pay scale.
Council member Matt Schuh said he could appreciate both sides of the issue but expressed concern over the just-approved 2018 final budget plus the prospect of the city adding another employee on staff. Schuh said he did not want to see the budget pushed too far out of alignment and suggested that it might be advisable to address the 50-cent raise in the 2019 budget cycle.
The additional employee would be earmarked for the sewer department. With the current plant manager nearing retirement and three years of experience required of a qualified replacement, the city needs to begin training a new person for the position.
City clerk/treasurer Judy Brown noted that the 2018 budget approved by council did make allowance for the 50-cent pay raise.
Mayor Janet Conklin spoke from the perspective of one who has been with the city many years. “We have, right at this point, the best working crew and staff in knowledge and hard working,” said Conklin. “I couldn’t ask for a better crew.”
At the same time, Conklin acknowledged that she is aware of “cities that are giving way over their budgeted amount and they end up in trouble because they’re top-heavy.”
Council member Sergio Orozco agreed with Conklin that “everybody does a great job” but lamented that “we’re not willing to pay them at least what they’re asking.”
Even though the Budget Committee came in with a 1.5 percent raise, Lee said he agreed that the city’s staff was worth the extra money and had no issue with the higher amount.
Schuh said that since the 50-cent raise was already factored into the current budget, he also concurred with the staff request.
Council voted to table Resolution 17-11 and bring it back at next month’s meeting with the 50-cent across-the-board raise in place of the original 1.5 percent increase.

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