Steamboat City Council to revisit pay raises

Members also to consider enacting Stage 2 fire restrictions

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Pay raises for city employees again will be the focus of a Steamboat Springs City Council meeting Tuesday night.

City officials applauded the council last month when it narrowly approved the first part of a pay raise plan that would award $1.05 million in salary bumps to city employees over the next 18 months. City officials now are looking to secure the second part of that plan.

Part 1 aims to resolve compression, a pay discrepancy that arises when the city’s new hires earn as much as veteran employees. It will cost an estimated $700,000 a year for the city to resovle the compression issue. The compression raises will range from $100 to $12,000 per employee depending on how long the employee has worked for the city.

The second part of the plan would bring all city employees up to a market value that was determined by a salary survey of 10 Colorado cities comparable to Steamboat. Doing so would cost about $800,000 if approved this year. The city estimated that number would grow by $300,000 each year.

The market-rate adjustments were met with skepticism from several council members. That part of the plan is likely to face council scrutiny again Tuesday. At their last meeting, three council members questioned whether the complete salary package was affordable.

“To put (our reserves) back into salaries right now would defeat everything we’ve tried to do with our fiscal responsibility,” council member Kenny Reisman said after the proposal was introduced. “I’m not necessarily seeing the sunny side of the street yet for this community. I hope for it, but I just don’t see it at the moment. This salary plan is too quick for me.”

City Council President Bart Kounovsky and member Cari Hermacinski expressed similar concerns.

City officials said last month that Steamboat’s sales tax revenue drop has bottomed out after a painful recession, but some council members questioned whether the city’s economic outlook was stable enough to support the salary increases that would grow annually.

The pay-raise plan stems from a salary survey started earlier this year that suggests some city employees are underpaid. City employee salaries have been frozen since 2008, and employee hours were cut as a result.

If the entire plan is enacted, 23 employees would see no salary increase; 11 would see an increase of less than $900; 22 would see a raise of between $1,000 and $2,000; 45 would see a raise of between $2,000 and $5,000; 64 would see a raise of between $5,000 and $10,000; and 38 would see an increase greater than $10,000, according to city officials.

In other action Tuesday, the council will consider adopting Stage 2 fire restrictions. The Stage 2 restrictions were adopted for much of the county last month and prohibit virtually all open flames, including campfires, stove fires and use of charcoal grills.

The lone exception is the use of petroleum-fueled stoves, grills and lanterns, provided vegetation has been cleared at least three feet on all sides.

To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210 or email scottfranz@SteamboatToday.com

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