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The City Council voted on Monday to adopt a new salary restructuring plan for City employees. The plan includes wage hikes for city employees across all income brackets totaling $252,416, with another $163,410.41 allocated for employee benefits, including paid time off (PTO). The Council voted to approve the plan after hearing pleas from City employees regarding their need for pay raises, saying that historically raises have failed to meet the annual rise in their cost of living.

Council Member Ristine Casagranda attempted to introduce two amendments seeking to curb the total $415,826.41 cost of the plan without sacrificing pay increases for those City employees in the lower income tiers. Casagranda’s amendments sought to cut from additional PTO funds and restrict pay increases to only those employees under a certain income threshold.

Casagranda cited continual comments from constituents that City employee salaries tend to be top heavy. Several Council members agreed that there may have been room to cut raises in the top tier, but that a further delay would deprive employees of long-overdue raises.

“I don’t want to see this delayed anymore,” said Vice Mayor Tony Baclaan. “I know that the employees have been waiting a long time for this, and fighting for a median wage…”

Assistant City Manager Stephen Sowell defended higher wages for top tier positions.

“We can say, yes, those positions in the higher grades are receiving a higher rate increase,” he said, “but we need to remain competitive, even in those positions... We want to deliver quality for this community, and that takes attracting quality candidates, regardless of which grade they’re in.”

Council Member John Osenga expressed concerns over a modified plan that would deprive a certain percentage of the City’s employees, especially since Council had already approved the total financial impact on the city.

“We did contract out to GovHR to do this study,” he said. “We did have discussions about this, and we did tell them to move forward in certain ways… We’re second-guessing, and if we’re going to move forward with this, I say we move forward in-all.”

After the Council failed to approve her proposed amendments, Council Member Casagranda stated that although she did not wish to withhold pay raises to those employees who truly needed them, she could not support the plan as it stood.

“Nobody has a vision,” Casagranda said. “Nobody in this room knows what’s going on. We have a budget, and we have numbers that are coming towards us, but there are a lot of inconsistencies and errors before us, and we’re just going to vote and say okay because it’s been a long time coming and people have been waiting? I can’t do it.”

The final vote was 5-2 to adopt the plan, with only Council Members Seese and Casagranda voting against.