SLP council approves two-year wage increases

by Tim Hennagir
Life Editor

Spring Lake Park City Council members recently approved wage increases for the city’s public works union, department heads and certain non-union employees.

City Administrator Barbara Nelson presented both requests Jan. 3.

In a memo, she said that public works employees had accepted an offer negotiated by the city’s negotiations committee.

The city received notification of the union’s acceptance Dec. 27. The two-year contract became effective Jan. 1 and runs through Dec. 31, 2013. It features a 2 percent wage increase.

According to Nelson, due to the uncertainty of the economy and general budget concerns, the negotiations committee proposed an open wage structure for 2013, but if the public works unit agreed to settle 2012 wages, the city was prepared to offer a 1 percent increase effective Jan. 1, 2013.

“The unit preferred to keep the 2013 wage open,” Nelson said last week.

Additionally, the city agrees to review the Local 49 health plan this year and compare its coverage and price with its current policy.

Last September, the city began contributing $826.54 monthly for employee and dependent health, hospitalization insurance and dental.

If there is an increase or decrease in premium, the city will split the amount with the employee on a 50-50 basis, calculated monthly.

Effective Sept. 1, 2012 and Sept. 1, 2013, if there is an increase or decrease in the premiums, there will be a 50-50 split of the increase or decrease with the employee.

Local 49 public works employees will also receive a lump sum $400 clothing allowance from the city.

Nelson also recommended Jan. 3 council members approve a 2 percent wage increase for department heads and non-union employees, but wait on a wage decision for three non-union employees at Central Park Liquor.

Nelson proposed that issue be addressed when a Teamsters’ labor agreement is settled.

According to Nelson, since the majority of the city’s non-union employees are women and the majority of the bargained employees are male, it’s important from a pay equity standpoint for the city to grant non-bargained employees the same cost of living increase as the union employees.

Council members agreed.

Council members also scheduled a Feb. 13 workshop to discuss succession planning for Nelson’s position of administrator and clerk/treasurer.

In addition to those three titled job responsibilities, Nelson also serves as the city’s human resources professional and Spring Lake Park’s zoning administrator.

“I see the discussion encompassing two parts,” Nelson wrote in a background memo. “Phased retirement for the current incumbent and a new hire. I will provide you with a request for reduced hours and benefits as previously discussed, an effective date for your consideration, a proposed job description and wage scale.”

According to Nelson, succession planning will allow the city to structure a phased retirement that will save money and ensure a qualified individual is hired who understands Spring Lake Park’s community culture as well as the city’s overall work environment.

Nelson has worked for the city of Spring Lake Park for 31 years.

Tim Hennagir is at [email protected]