After three work sessions, the Parker Town Council has come to a consensus as to what they want to do with employee salaries in the 2021-22 fiscal year. At a work session July 1, the council directed that the minimum wage for town employees will be $15 per hour. All employees who are currently below that level will be raised to that level. All other employees will receive a 5 percent Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) pay increase.
The decision came after work sessions where the council discussed various options, including a 3 percent COLA pay hike and an across-the-board $2 per hour pay increase.
This came after there were no pay increases for FY 2020-21.
Town Manager Lori Wedemeyer said there are currently six town employees who are not making at least $15 per hour. They include three maintenance workers, a janitor, an office assistant, and a part-time library aide.
The Town of Parker is looking at paying $4.4 million in salaries in the coming fiscal year, according to figures provided by Wedemeyer. The majority of the funds, $2.65 million, will come from the general fund. The others come from the state or sources like grants.
The biggest payroll from the general fund will be the Parker Police Department. Their salaries are budgeted for $1.3 million in FY 2021-22.
One matter that was discussed briefly at the July 1 work session was that of retention. Public Works Director Steve Ziegler said he had a difficult time retaining people who had achieved certain state certifications and licenses. As an example, he said he lost two truck drivers after they obtained their Commercial Drivers’ Licenses. He said the private sector could pay them a lot more than the Town could.
Ziegler said there was nothing in the Town’s salary structure to provide compensation for additional licenses or training.
“It’s hard to keep people who are trained,” he said.
Wedemeyer said Public Works isn’t the only department with this problem. She said the Parker Police Department sends new officers to be trained at the academy, only to lose them a short time after they started work here to towns or cities that will pay them more money.
Council Member Randy Hartless, who is also the president of the Parker School Board, said the school district has a $2,000 penalty in teacher contracts if they leave early. He added he didn’t know if this was something the Town could do, or if it could be legally enforced.
Wedemeyer said the proposed salary structure would still leave the Town with a contingency fund of $300,000.
The new fiscal year began July 1.