City of Granite Shoals employees could qualify for extra pay if they obtain additional education and the funds are available in the budget.
After weeks of discussions and studies, the City Council approved resolutions to adopt an updated salary range and certification pay policy by a 5-2 vote during its regular meeting Dec. 15. Councilors Jim Davant and Dr. Steve Hougen dissented.
The certification pay is a pot of $33,000, which could be distributed to employees who get more education in an effort to earn additional licenses or certifications. Yet, there’s no guarantee the certification pay will be issued, as the council wants to ensure the city can afford it.
“The money was important to them,” City Manager Jeff Looney said of the council’s concern. “They don’t want to do something that’s a motivator and then not do it. … This council took a lot of time to understand the process. They were never against it.”
During the meeting, Police Chief Gary Boshears told councilors it was better to pass the resolutions with the wording that the extra pay may or may not come.
“I don’t think it would be a detriment to morale to say ‘possibly something we are looking at. The money might not be there,’” he said.
Shortly after that is when the council voted on the resolutions.
Looney and Assistant City Manager Peggy Smith presented the resolutions to the council in October. Back then, the council noted that the COVID-19 pandemic had put the country in the worse economy since the Great Depression, and it didn’t want to promise pay increases it could not fulfill. So Looney and Finance Director Russell Martin worked on the resolutions to reflect that for the past several weeks.
The certification pay was vital to Looney because of the incentive it gives for employees to obtain licenses to better serve.
“An educated workforce is an improved workforce,” he said. “Things learned through education can improve services that we provide citizens.
“It helps us through our recruitment processes,” Looney added. “When we can pay folks, it gives us a basis to help analyze the current pay and make adjustments for people in the long run. In order for us to be competitive in the market, we need to look at what we pay people.”
To help the councilors understand why these resolutions are important, Smith told them the city lost a street department employee who resigned to work in the same department for Burnet County because that employee received $3 more an hour.
Looney said that $3 increase in hourly pay equals $6,000 more annually.
“He got better benefits and more monetary value even though he’d be doing the same type of work,” Looney said. “I believe after 90 days, he’d probably get another $2 per hour. So, basically, he got a $10,000 raise.”
During the meeting, Looney made clear what he thinks of the city of Granite Shoals employees to the council, which is why he pushed for the payscale.
“I absolutely have the best work crew I’ve ever worked with,” he said. “This is by far the most cohesive work crew I’ve ever seen.”