- Associated Press - Tuesday, February 16, 2016

DUBUQUE, Iowa (AP) - Two city council members have suggested reducing or eliminating a salary increase for 500 city employees, causing concern among their colleagues and city administrators.

The Telegraph Herald (http://bit.ly/1onbLl3 ) reports that council members Luis Del Toro and David Resnick say they’d like city council to reconsider the wage increase for the upcoming fiscal year in order to decrease a proposed 1.7 percent property tax rate increase.

“I understand morale, and I’m not trying to take away anything from the City of Dubuque employees,” Del Toro said during a Feb. 1 council meeting. “I know how hard they work with what they do, and they deserve fair compensation. But, when thinking about what’s best for Dubuque, and we’re looking at our current fiscal situation, I don’t know that asking for a second year (of frozen wages) would be a major sacrifice.”

City Manager Mike Van Milligen has recommended wage increases of 2.5 percent for the fiscal year beginning July 1, which is consistent with existing collective bargaining agreements.

City officials say the property tax rate is needed to address rising health care costs and to offset revenue declines.

Resnick says he feels that city employees deserve a raise but notes that even a small reduction in the wage increase would make a significant difference in lowering the city’s recommended tax rate.

Last week, Van Milligen gave council members a memo outlining various scenarios of reducing the planned employee raises and the impact they’d have on the tax rate.

But several council member say they forsee little movement on the issue.

“We strive for equity in treating our employees,” said Ric Jones, a council member. “We’re a high-performance organization with high-performance employees across the board. … and I’d hate to see us treat them inequitably.”

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Information from: Telegraph Herald, http://www.thonline.com

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