Loganville set to vote on pay raises

By Stephen Milligan - the Walton Tribune

Following a citywide study of employee salaries compared to surrounding areas, Loganville is set to potentially increase salaries across the board to improve employee retention and future hiring.

The classification and compensation study compared Loganville to nine other organizations, private and public, and found Loganville was at the bottom of the list in employee pay for almost every single position.

“Our employees were the lowest paid. Period,” councilmember Anne Huntsinger said at Monday night’s works session of the Loganville City Council. “We are paying for eight years, nine years of not having enough increments.”

Loganville dropped automatic pay increases during the recession and while it added back a small amount, never went back to the percentage it used before the change, leaving city salaries lagging behind other cities and private industries during historic inflation.

The city is now poised to adopt a plan to increase pay for every position and add a set of steps to increase pay at certain intervals.

“Most of our staff are underpaid,” Danny Roberts, city manager for Loganville, said. “This will put us in the middle. It makes us competitive.”

Roberts initiated the study because he felt they were having trouble hiring new employees and also finding ways to retain employees who found higher paying jobs elsewhere.

“Why did we do this?” Roberts asked. “We’ve lost a lot of people and we had more people who were going to leave. If they left, other employees might also follow suit.”

The salary plan will cost more than $600,000 this year, but Roberts said the city would divert funds from other budget sources to pay for the cost in year one, reallocating monies meant to hire new employees to instead increase pay for existing employees, as well as using some other funds from various sources to cover the costs. After that, Roberts said the city would fold the costs into the budget process going forward.

“I wouldn’t do this if we had to raise taxes,” Roberts said.

Mayor Skip Baliles said the plan was an acceptable cost to ensure the staff got the pay they deserved.

“If we’re going to spend some money, we’d like to spend money on our employees,” Baliles said.

Huntsinger said it was necessary to draw more employees to the city in the future as well.

“Our city is growing,” she said. “We’re going to have to add more staff.”

She also apologized to the employees, who made up more than half of the audience in the crowd in the council chambers, for criticism they’d received during debate over the study on social media.

“I am sorry anyone every questioned your performance and ability,” she said. “It is inexcusable you were ever dragged into the public arena.”

The council will vote on the plan on Thursday at the regular monthly meeting as an individual agenda item after Baliles objected to slotting the vote into the consent agenda to be approved en masse with other items.

“We need to show how everyone voted on this one,” Baliles said.

In other council news, the city is poised to approve the purchase of a Flock camera system, which will install 10 cameras around town for law enforcement traffic monitoring.

The system will cost $66,500 for a two year contract, to be paid out of federal forfeiture funds from drug busts.

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