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The Marble Falls City Council voted to increase city salaries by 5 percent, beginning in the current pay period, during its regular meeting Tuesday, July 5.

A compensation study by accounting and consulting firm Baker Tilly was presented to the council by firm Senior Manager Jada Kent. 

A major factor in the decision was the need to remain competitive in hiring and keeping employees. Inflation and cost-of-living also were considered, Kent told the council.

“With the results, there are a couple of decisions to make,” she said. “You could be at market or lead the market.”

Kent alluded to a recent trend of the public sector battling the private sector for employees. Because of this, more local governments are being forced to change their compensation strategies to retain staff, she said.

“In the past, it’s been very common for local governments to decide to lag in compensation because benefits were leading,” Kent said. “Now, competing with the private sector, that might not be much of an option anymore.”

The Baker Tilly survey showed the city was roughly 9.1 percent behind the market in compensation. According to Kent, a 5 percent increase matches raises being given in the private sector for 2022.

“I am all for this,” Councilor Dee Hadley said before the vote was taken. “We’ve got to make sure we support our (department) supervisors and help them every way we can, along with this.”

The only dissenting voice in the 5-1 vote, Councilor Reed Norman told DailyTrib.com after the meeting he disagreed with the idea of using residents’ tax dollars to raise pay for city staff. 

“It’s not money that leads people,” Norman said. “It’s how you lead people. It just doesn’t seem fair that we can do this on the backs of tax dollars.” 

The 5-1 vote also reflected the absence of Mayor Richard Westerman. Mayor Pro Tem Dave Rhodes led the meeting. 

IN OTHER BUSINESS

The City Council unanimously approved a contract with Randall Scott Architects to begin plans for a new City Hall. The firm’s founder, Randall Scott, met with the council in a June 21 workshop meeting to present past examples of his work.

Originally, Scott only had two possible sites for a new City Hall: Second Street and Avenue J or Seventh Street and Main Street. The contract approved by the council lets the firm look at three additional, unnamed sites.

The overall cost of the initial phase of the contract will be about $77,000. 

Also, the council unanimously approved a new service agreement between Marble Falls Fire Rescue and Siddons-Martin Emergency Group. The contract will lock in labor and maintenance rates for the next three years with an additional option for a two-year extension with increased costs.

nathan@thepicayune.com