Archive for Monday, November 2, 2009

City of Lawrence employees in line for higher-than-expected year-end bonus

The Lawrence City Hall, 6 E. Sixth St.

The Lawrence City Hall, 6 E. Sixth St.

November 2, 2009


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Should pay raises for Lawrence city employees be based on years of service or performance?

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On the street

Should the city run a budget deficit to provide a year-end bonus for its employees?

I understand that the people getting the bonus probably deserve it, but I do not believe in deficits of any kind.

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Lawrence city employees may receive a special monetary thank you as city commissioners prepare to close the books on a rough 2009.

At their meeting Tuesday evening, commissioners will consider a recommendation to double the amount of the year-end longevity payment that city employees receive.

City Manager David Corliss is recommending that the payment be increased to $48 for every year of service an employee has with the city. That is up from the $24 per year that the city budgeted for in 2009, but is equal to the amount the city has traditionally paid in previous years.

The recommendation comes at a time when the city’s general fund budget is expected to have a revenue shortfall of about $950,000. But Corliss and at least a pair of commissioners believe the city can afford the larger bonuses because enough cuts to city expenditures have been made in other areas.

“I think every employee has done a great job in understanding the economic times we live in, and they have worked really hard to come up with ways to save money for the city,” Commissioner Mike Amyx said. “I think this is truly a way to thank our employees.”

Mayor Rob Chestnut said he also was leaning toward supporting the recommendation. The proposal is projected to add $130,000 to the city’s budget. Corliss has cautioned that about $30,000 may need to come from the city’s fund balances, which is the city’s version of a saving account.

But both Chestnut and Amyx said they will challenge staff to come up with additional cuts to avoid having a 2009 budget that is not balanced.

“I’m pretty confident we can do this and not dip into the fund balance,” Chestnut said.

The recommendation also comes after city commissioners released an employee survey earlier this year that indicated morale of city workers was reaching a new low.

Commissioners meet at 6:35 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall, Sixth and Massachusetts streets.


cowboy 8 years, 6 months ago

With all due respect to the city employees , governments should not issue bonuses. If the city employees are not thankful they have a job in this economy then something is quite wrong .

Woodstein 8 years, 6 months ago

Chad - perhaps you should clarify the math in your story. If the city experiences a $950,000 revenue shortfall, does this mean that the city is in the red for the $950,000; or does it mean that the city missed out on the $950k revenue but through budget cuts still maintains a positive bottomline between revenue and expenses?

If we're in the red $950K then why would the city commissioners want to bless digging the hole deeper with another $130K for bonuses; and pay for it through the reserve fund? What happens when the next rainy day happens and the fund is dry. That's fiscally irresponsible!

Perhaps better finanical analysis and reporting are in order to keep all the apples and oranges in their respective revenue and expense columns.

KU_cynic 8 years, 6 months ago

A complete abdication of fiscal responsibility in the face of a fully anticipated shortfall in city tax revenues.

Fund the bonuses -- if you must -- commissioners, by the further elimination of some positions.

Mike Wagner 8 years, 6 months ago

Are you F-ing kidding me!!! How about a pat on the back, a thank you and a "be thankful you still have a job"!! This city government kills me!!!

Boeing 8 years, 6 months ago

Ah the genius that is the City of Lawrence contains to shock and amaze...what a messed up government

laika 8 years, 6 months ago

Yea, I have to agree that this is pretty confusing. Is the $950,000 a revenue shortfall that has been covered by cuts? Or is the city going to have to spend $950,000 with maybe $30,000 or even $130,000 on top? The sentence about $30,000 coming from a special contingency fund doesn't do much to clear anything else up either.

Jimo 8 years, 6 months ago

You know, I started to read this article with an open mind -- there's got to be good reasons why the City would be handing out bonuses.

Then I got to "longevity payment". Seriously, dude? I never knew the City paid people based on how many years had passed without them being fired. Seriously, the City doesn't restrict bonuses to persons whose individual performance excelled? Will there be a trophy for every employee too?

Here's a thought: fire every single employee, hire them back (most of them), and then tell them they don't qualify for a "longevity payment" as they haven't worked for the City even a year. Then repeat each year, getting rid of the bottom 5% annually.

Chris Ogle 8 years, 6 months ago

Isn't Lawrence special....

Just in time for another tax increase.

JSDAD 8 years, 6 months ago

The recommendation also comes after city commissioners released an employee survey earlier this year that indicated morale of city workers was reaching a new low.

Maybe some of those most sad could try a job in the real world and see how big a smilly face it puts on thier day. bet if anyone quit there would be applicants in line for the job, bonus or not.

LadyJ 8 years, 6 months ago

Would any of them quit if they didn't get the bonus? I doubt it. The city employees that lost their jobs in the last two years certainly wouldn't have complained about no bonus. If they can declare a hiring freeze they can declare a bonus freeze for a couple of years. In a year when they said they may have to cut the crossing guards, they can give bonuses for not quitting, unbelievable.

frank regnier 8 years, 6 months ago

Has greed corrupted every person in our country? What is wrong with this country? People losing their jobs and homes while others are raking in bonuses? Unbelievable!

somebodynew 8 years, 6 months ago

OK, this is truly bizarre. This may amaze some people, but I used to be one of those employees and do think they deserve the pay (some of it is contractually neccessary). BUT, to give an extra bonus on top of what is already called for ???? I don't get this at all. There was talk not too long ago about doing away with this at all, now the City wants to double it ???? WT* ???

And I agree with the comments about the money issues. If the City is in a hole, just how is this being paid for without adding to the hole???

This just makes no sense to me. Unless the City is pulling another move like years ago. Where the groups that are organized and under "contracts" will not get the extra, just the few city workers who are represented by anyone. But still, even that doesn't make sense to me.

lawthing 8 years, 6 months ago

free money! Who could as for anything more?

tbaker 8 years, 6 months ago

I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them.

Thomas Jefferson

JSDAD 8 years, 6 months ago

Sorry but this statement is idiotic. What the hell do you think city employees do? They are the ones who collect your trash, fix your streets, police, fire, etc. What would you call a job in the “real world”?

right now in the "real" world most people arent getting "bonuses" at all little alone extra bonuses because they are sad.

CLARKKENT 8 years, 6 months ago

THAT IS JUST PLAIN BS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

vegetablegirl 8 years, 6 months ago

This is wrong on so many levels. The commissioners that support this will come under great scrutiny. This is not the economic climate to be increasing ANYTHING! Get a grip City Hall. You are about to make a disastorous decision.

yankeevet 8 years, 6 months ago

lol...........barrypenders.........i know thats right!!!! lol hey someone help me hold this sign; i be needin my coffee break

Stuart Evans 8 years, 6 months ago

i'm both unhappy, yet understanding of this. I don't know how happy I'd be working somewhere for 10 years and only get $240, or even $480 as a year end bonus. it's pretty weak. But these folks chose to work for local government, so tiny bonus's are nothing new to them. and, the budget was done up for $24/YOS, everyone expected it. so why double it? why not 1.5x it? wouldn't you be thrilled if you were told you'd get $24/YOS & you get $36/YOS instead?

Jonathan Becker 8 years, 6 months ago

The inconsistency of being $950k in the red and then adding another $130k to the shortfall/deficit/lack of revenue for bonuses is puzzling. The only explanation is that the only thing consistent about the City Commission has been its slavish adherence to inconsistency.

BigPrune 8 years, 6 months ago

Maybe we are an island in a sea of fiscal responsibility and that's what makes Lawrence so darn special.....and broke.

Negative net jobs for the past 10 years? Job well done!

Mel Briscoe 8 years, 6 months ago

watch out city employees-- especially those of your w/ the least amount of tenure or seniority-- they did the same thing here in salina a few years ago... did a pay plan so that salina was staying competitive w/ surrounding communities. everyone got substantial raises... and some of us got the ax because they had to cut corners somewhere. i had only been there for 6 months so i was expendable. my position doesn't even exist anymore. and about a year after i left, they decided that they had given TOO much of a raise to everyone and several other people had to lose their jobs as well in order to cut costs. so be wary, larryville city employees... there could be pink slips looming in some of your near futures because of this hefty raise.

cowboy 8 years, 6 months ago

LJW , is this bonus payout part of a contract ? Or a result of the bargaining units , i.e. police and fire ?

If morale is the issue then there should be a come to Jesus message delivered , you have a good job , you have benefits few of us have, shut up and be happy.

First rule in benefits management is never give something you can't repeat next year. What happens then , will they feel like they are getting screwed cuz last year they got more.

This is more amateur hour management by the city staff and commission.

This is a back door raise pure and simple. While blowing their horns about saving money they are retroing the pay raises to employees.

GardenMomma 8 years, 6 months ago

Hmm, I've worked at the same company for nearly 10 years and have only gotten a company-wide "bonus" once. Of course we get COLA raises, but never a year-end bonus.

And it seems to me that if you don't have the money, don't spend the money.

Jean1183 8 years, 6 months ago

Ridiculous! At a time when they should be grateful to be employed, let alone get a bonus!

BigPrune 8 years, 6 months ago

How many staff actually got the boot, one maybe two?

Sounds like it's a good business to be anti-business.

monkeywrench1969 8 years, 6 months ago

A cop I train with at the gym commented a couple of weeks ago the city took $300,000 taken from their alotted current overall budget so I would not worry about your taxes going up. Also he said their last contract said they were supposed to get $4 per monthlongevity (i.e. $48 per year of service), but the city budgeted only $2 for the for them.

samsnewplace 8 years, 6 months ago

What appropriate timing LJW with City Comm. meeting tonight, to get the town all stirred up the day before. People, EVERYONE is glad to have a job in this economy, yes even the City Employee who was just put out there on display for ridicule, and beaten down once more. These are benefits the City has always had, they were cut the first part of the year and it looks like they may stay cut with all the comments here. WTG LJW, mission accomplished.

mom_of_three 8 years, 6 months ago

Our city is giving bonuses while lots of people didn't even get raises this year (or last).

newmedia 8 years, 6 months ago

The city must be counting on a big chunk of the "stimulus" money from the feds. What a better shovel ready job than a salary bonus. Just keep paying your taxes kids. Hope and Change...

Susan Mangan 8 years, 6 months ago

And what do they intend to do about the incredibly low morale of the residents and taxpayers in this city?

Mel Briscoe 8 years, 6 months ago

big prune, i don't know how many people here in salina got the ax. i just thought it was ME, but of course i was devastated when i lost my job... then i found out there were others and then they did a write up in the salina journal about how the city was overspending (this was about a year after i lost my job) and how some of it had to do w/ the pay plan and subsequent pay raises and that some more people would be losing their jobs. i don't know the number of people though.

Chris Ogle 8 years, 6 months ago

What happened to " Don't spend it if you don't have it"

Oh, that's right.... This is Lawrence KS

monkeywrench1969 8 years, 6 months ago

Not all city employees get these payments only those who have stayed with the city for x amount of years. It is something they have been paying for over 25 years

9070811 8 years, 6 months ago

None of the aquatic center upper management should not get bonuses or raises. Worst management team in the whole city. Absolutely ridiculous. Anyone who swims there or is an employee knows how completely unorganized the facility is. It doesn't seem to be the staffs fault, they actually do pretty well. Considering that they get no direction or confusing directions from their upper management.

kmat 8 years, 6 months ago

More reason to hate Lawrence.

I am lucky and get bonuses. But, I get bonuses because my company is smart and has figured out how to grow during this terrible economy. We only get bonuses if the company grows and make money. If the city can manage to get everything done on their current budget and still has money left over, then give the employees a bonus. If they're in the red, no bonus.

At my work, people constantly knock on wood and are thankful we have jobs. Moral is going to suck when the economy sucks. Get used to it city employees.

Jean1183 8 years, 6 months ago

"These are benefits the City has always had, they were cut the first part of the year"

samsnewplace......LOTS of people have had benefits and/or hours cut, but are still grateful that they even have a job!

nixon00 8 years, 6 months ago

First of all this is something that they do every year and is not new. Second of all you don't even qaulify for $24/$48 until you've worked there five years. "Oh, thank you servant of Lawrence for putting up with our crap for five plus years. Here's $48 dollars. Maybe you can fill up your tank for another weeks worth of work! I hope this makes up for the fact that you don't recieve cost of living raises. You should be happy you have a job." Give me a break. The one thing the city can invests wisely in is people. Why don't you complain about some of the things Lawrence is really wasting money on.

frogtoad 8 years, 6 months ago

Please split your bonus with me. Keep me a happy employee. Should I just be happy to have a job? Should I stop trying to do better than good?

lounger 8 years, 6 months ago

WTF?..... the city’s general fund budget is expected to have a revenue shortfall of about $950,000.

Ring any bells? Like there is NO money?? How about just the normal money this year, or maybe cut backs??

Who the hell is losing their mind here? SOmebody help! Throw out all the yo-yo's who proposed this asinine Increase.

Georgine McHenry 8 years, 6 months ago

Mr Corliss...there is something very wrong with this idea. My street is a mess and you want to spend money on employees that do pretty much nothing?! Not cool at all. Make some cuts that really make a certain department heads...then give a smaller bonus because...hey we're in a recession! Duh.

Chad Lawhorn 8 years, 6 months ago

A couple of posters have asked for more information about the $950,000 revenue shortfall that was mentioned in this article. Here it is: The city's general fund in 2009 is expected to have revenues that are $950,000 less than what was budgeted for at the beginning of the year. As the next sentence in the article says, there also have been spending cuts, meaning that total expenditures in 2009 will be less than budgeted for as well. Current projections, though, estimate the spending cuts won't be enough to cover the full $130,000 that will be needed to increase the amount of the longevity payment. Instead, the city manager is estimating that about $30,000 would need to come out of the city's fund balance account, which is much like the city's saving account. If that is the case, the city's budget for 2009 would be out of balance by $30,000, or by less than 1 percent. But some commissioners believe that dipping into the fund balance account won't be necessary. They believe expenditures will come in lower than projected, eliminating the need to dip into the savings fund. Hope that helps. Chad Lawhorn Journal-World

ksarmychick 8 years, 6 months ago

Didn't the city raise taxes last year? if they have all of this "extra" money laying around why don't they lower taxes? Something is very wrong here.

monkeywrench1969 8 years, 6 months ago

I think one poster he pointed out this is a benefit for the employees who stay for a career rather than job hop. One of hte things I have noticed over the years are the friends and relatives of mine who have hopped every couple of years have had more trouble getting jobs when times were tough, because no one wants to hire someone, train them and then lose them to someone else who doesn't want to put forth a bunch of expenses toward the new guy and they can steal them from someone else.

How many people remember the question typically asked in an interview "Where do you see yourself in five years". The question was to see if you were going to stay.

Sounds to me like they should have budgeted the entire amount in the first place rather than only half. But this could have been a calculated move by Corlis to manipulate the commisioners right before the vote by releasing a story right before the vote to fund it and letting public opinion drive the issue rather than paying a benefit that has been paid for years.

justsayno 8 years, 6 months ago

If you are complaining about this nice little perk then you are better served to save your breath because your city commisioners and especially the city manager do not even care what you think. Try e-mailing them and see how easily they blow you off. They don't care what you think. Didn't you know that money grows on trees as far as they are concerned. They even consider it okay to pay some city employees when they are not even at work. They finish there job, they go home with pay. Oh the life, I wish that I would have had it so nice in my over 35 years of working for the same employer. Just get it into your heads that you and what you think do not matter. Just pay your exorbitant taxes that continue to rise and leave the hard decisions of how to throw away your hard earned money to the experts. This is more total bull____ from people that don't give a crap about you.

mainah 8 years, 6 months ago

Glad to hear this. The city employees do a great job of keeping our city running in the heat of the summer and cold of the winter. Good job !!

frogtoad 8 years, 6 months ago

Can I get a job there in time for the super extra bonus?

LA_Ex 8 years, 6 months ago

People will complain about anything. The people that keep this city running are getting a little (very little) year end bonus. Last year I got a $250 Christmas bonus and that was the mid range for the company (some got more, some got less). If I understand right, city employee's will be getting either a $24 or $48 bonus. They also typically get paid less than a comparable private sector job. Sounds to me like most of the posters here should be happy that your local garbage man may be getting a few extra bucks for his kids Christmas presents.

Kim Murphree 8 years, 6 months ago

what this article does NOT say is that longevity was CUT last year...that this move would restore some of that money...someone downtown doesn't want city employees to receive their Christmas money...what this article also does not say is that the entire system for city employees to recieve any pay increases has been changed to essentially lower incomes for city workers...increased health care costs, very limited money pools for raises...I wonder why the entirety of those considerations was not included in this article?

fraktrac 8 years, 6 months ago

I can say that some of the workers that work for the city really do work and do earn the bonus that they get at the end of the year, So those of you that complain maybe you should go work for the city and then you will get the bonus also .

Sunny Parker 8 years, 6 months ago

The city does not have great insurance! The benefits suck actually.

That being said...the city has no money! Our taxes are outrageous....NO ONE should be getting a raise, or a bonus!

Six months ago they were talking about doing away with positions. Now they (we) have money to be giving bonuses? I don't think so.

We need leadership in City Hall, those people on 4th floor do not know how to run a business!

corduroypants 8 years, 6 months ago

Sounds like a lot of people on here wish they worked for the city.

reality 8 years, 6 months ago

Somebodynew: If you were one of those people that received one of those checks you would KNOW that it used to be the $48.00 per year (and you had to be there 5 years) if morale is low, things need to be done to raise that! I don't know that every city employee needs them, but I do think that all the public service people do deserve this!!! I'm not employed by the city, and I strongly feel that the police dept employees and fire department employees fully deserve this! These individuals work holidays, weekends, days and nights. They face the worst of all situations, they deal with living, dying, and already dead people. This takes a huge tole on the morale of a person, and with little compensation... Figure out a way to give them a bonus they deserve!!!!

Jean1183 8 years, 6 months ago

read the entire post idiot, I said, "People, everyone is glad to have a job in this economy". The current economy has hit EVERYONE in one way or another. If it is possible to keep one small benefit, bonus, in today's world it will make up for spouses who have lost jobs, had hours cut and no longer get raises

From me to the person who sent this-----> I especially think classy people who send PM's calling names should get their year end bonus.

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