Archive for Monday, November 15, 2010

Lawrence city commission to ponder year-end longevity payments for employees

November 15, 2010


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Lawrence city commissioners are being asked to spend about $400,000 to provide city employees with a year-end reward.

Commissioners at their Tuesday evening meeting will consider approving a year-end longevity program that basically will pay city employees $48 per year for each year that they have worked for the city. The program has a total price tag of $396,600 in 2010.

The city for decades routinely has made a year-end longevity payment, but the program has come under more scrutiny the last several years as the economy has tightened. This year city commissioners may have to dip into the city’s savings account to fund the program as city revenues have come in lower than expected.

“But I do think we want to recognize that in many cases city employees have taken on more responsibilities and are doing the work of the city with fewer employees,” said City Manager David Corliss, who is recommending the commission approve the program.

The city has cut its work force — not including police and fire positions — by about 15 percent, or 24 positions, since 2008. The city also hasn’t raised its mill levy by any significant amount since 2007, although voters did approve a trio of sales tax increases in 2008.

City commissioners on Monday were split on the issue. City Commissioner Rob Chestnut said he was leaning toward approving the longevity payments, if the city could figure out how to do so while keeping the city’s budget balanced.

It is uncertain whether the city will be able to balance its budget and fund the longevity program. The latest city projections estimate that with the program in place, the city will need to pull about $100,000 from its fund balance account, which is the city’s version of a savings account.

Corliss said he’s comfortable pulling $100,000 from the fund balance account since the city has been able to grow the size of the account by $600,000 during the past three years. But Corliss also said he’s holding out hope that sales tax revenues will improve enough during the last three months of the year that it won’t be necessary to dip into the savings account.

Chestnut said he wants to take a harder look at the city’s estimates and see if there is a way to fund the longevity program and avoid tapping into the savings account.

“I think the longevity payment is in the spirit of good business sense,” Chestnut said. “We have city employees who are doing a good job of staying within a budget and they’re still providing the same level of services to residents, so if we can reward them for that we should.”

City Commissioner Lance Johnson, though, said he likely will not support the program. Johnson, who was the lone commissioner to vote against the payments last year, said he agrees that city employees have been doing a great job during the economic slowdown. But he said the financial times are not right for the program, especially as private sector workers have faced stagnant wages or wage cuts.

“I think there has been a point in time where public employees were not as well compensated for the same job that somebody was doing in the private sector,” Johnson said. “But I don’t think that is the case at all anymore. I think there are a lot of people in the private sector that are just happy to be drawing any type of paycheck.”

Commissioners meet at 6:35 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall.


thewayitis 7 years, 5 months ago

Why not give the employees $24 per year and make everyone happy. Something is better than nothing.

doc1 7 years, 5 months ago

I agree grandpa. Their incentives compared to other professional jobs are so meager I can't see them taking away what little they have.

somebodynew 7 years, 5 months ago

toe - it is not free money to the men and women who work in that system day in and day out for years when they could be making more in the private sector (if there are jobs out there). But let me guess, you would be one of the first to b****h if something doesn't work right or it takes too long for something to be done.

Bladerunner 7 years, 5 months ago

They use longevity pay as a pawn every year in contract negotiations. How can they offer it as a benefit to help in recruiting new employees, retaining good employees, and then dangle it out there each year while they decide wether they are going to fund it? Stay classy Lawrence.

fu7il3 7 years, 5 months ago

We have the money to built 18 million dollar library expansion and buy Farmland's polluted site that is going to cost millions to clean up, but they are saying they don't know if they can come up with the money to pay their employees? That's nice. We have great priorities in a down economy.

Mike Wagner 7 years, 5 months ago

I'm curious, How many of us workers get a year end bonus? They should do a poll on this..

lawrencehatesbusinesses 7 years, 5 months ago

Since the City Government has tripled in size over the past 20 years and our population is dwindling or stagnated, and any new development has ceased to exist over the past 10 years, why hasn't the City Government workforce been downsized?

I think I'll now go ride my bicycle around those necessary bike path roundabouts.

whiteguy 7 years, 5 months ago

Are you serious , where you been , the city has been cutting their workeforce for the last 4 years ! The problem in this city is the city manager and city commision.

evilpenguin 7 years, 5 months ago

Ok, so, $400,000 a year to split between the current employees, with the loss of 24 employees over the last two years.

Why not take the $400,000 for "incentives" that would go to current employees and create 10-15 new jobs. This would lighten the load on the current employees, making the need for incentives null and void. Why would the city choose to waste money when they could be providing jobs for people in these tough economic times?

Seems like the money is burning a hole in the city's pocket....

kujhawk 7 years, 5 months ago

From what I have heard the only employees that get bonuses are the ones that have been there for 5 years or more what's the number of employees that have been there less than 5 years?

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