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Archive for Sunday, June 17, 1990

PUBLIC WORKERS GET 3-4% RAISES

June 17, 1990

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Local government employees from custodians at Kansas University to city hall secretaries will see their pay adjusted upward in the 3 percent to 4 percent range in the coming fiscal year.

Not all of the fiscal 1991 budgets are set yet; the city of Lawrence, Douglas County and Lawrence School district, won't adopt their budgets until sometime in August. But officials either know or have a good idea of what will kind of salary increases will be forthcoming.

City Manager Mike Wildgen, for instance, said he will recommend a 4 percent salary adjustment for most city employees effective Jan. 1, 1991. The exception to the recommended increase will be firefighters, who will receive a 3 percent increase effective Jan. 12, 1991, under terms of a two-year work agreement between the city and firefighters that went into effect in 1989.

MIKE AMYX, who chairs the Douglas County Commission, said county officials are using a 3 percent figure in planning the 1991 county budget. The raise would go to all county employees, except for commissioners. However, Amyx pointed out, "that is by no means, at least in my mind, a final figure."

Teachers in the Lawrence School District recently negotiated a package that will give them a 3.87 percent boost in salary beginning with the new school year. That will raise the average wage for teachers in the district from the current $28,931 to $30,050 in 1990-91, according to district officials.

At Kansas University, some 2,000 classified (civil service) employees will average a 4 percent salary increase for the coming fiscal year. That includes a 1.5 percent cost of living adjustment and a 2.5 percent step increase on the state pay plan. Classified employees include clerical workers, library assistants, housing workers, food service workers, police and facilities operations workers.

PAY INCREASES for unclassified university employees, such as faculty members, will average 3.03 percent. Chancellor Gene Budig's goal was to allow for an average 3 percent pay raise.

Pay increases for public employees come about because of a number of factors cost of living increases, comparative salaries, negotiated settlements, legislative fiat.

But the 3 percent to 4 percent increases don't exactly represent an economic bonanza, representatives of the various employees say, and in some instances they complain the increases don't even help keep pace with inflation.

"Even with a full 4 percent, many classified employees won't be able to keep up with the rate of inflation," Cindy Riling, president of the KU Classified Senate, said. "The classified employee spending dollar keeps shrinking."

RILING, registrar at the KU School of Law, said that despite the university administration's efforts, the state's actions toward classified employees make competing with the private sector for employees more difficult.

At the city, Wildgen said, the annual goal is to remain competitive.

"We call it a salary adjustment, and one thing you try to look at is to remain competitive. You look at what the state is doing, other municipal agencies, what you think you can afford. It's not meant to be a cost of living increase, but a salary adjustment to help maintain competitive salaries in the area," Wildgen said.

In a negotiated arrangement, such as between the city and its police or firefighters or the school district and its teachers, wage increases aren't the only sticking points.

THE LAWRENCE Police Officers Assn., for example, in May reached a tentative agreement with the city on a two-year work agreement that calls for 4 percent salary increases in both 1991 and 1992.

"A survey of the membership prior to us presenting our offer was overwhelmingly in favor of the 4 percent proposal, so they must believe that a 4 percent increase is not unreasonable at this time," said Tony Garcia, president of the LPOA.

But there were other factors involved in the police negotiations besides the wage issue, Garcia said. Police, he said, were willing to work with the city to solve what they believe is a lack of police department manpower. The city will hold a referendum in August asking voters to approve a 1/2-cent increase in the sales tax, the proceeds of which would allow the city to hire an additional 27 police.

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