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Proposed raises would cost Galt taxpayers $500,000

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Posted: Monday, March 20, 2006 10:00 pm

To bring Galt more in line with 11 other cities, the City Council is looking at handing out raises costing taxpayers more than a half-million dollars.

"We need to retain these employees for their vast knowledge and experience so they don't feel compelled to seek employment with another city," Human Resources Director Paula Islas said in a written report to the City Council.

Under the proposal going to the council tonight, City Manager Ted Anderson would get an 8.42 percent increase - almost $10,000 - to his estimated $116,000 salary, which doesn't include the cost of benefits or pensions.

If approved by the City Council tonight, the salary increases will take effect April 1.

But a state taxpayer group doesn't see the point to increasing salaries like the Galt council is contemplating tonight.

"A city should not be compelled to act based on the bad judgment of their neighbors," said Kris Vosburgh, executive director of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, a state watchdog group.

"It's like when we were kids and our mother wouldn't let us do something," he said. "We'd say all our friends are doing it. Our mother would say, 'If they told you to jump off a bridge, would you do that too?'"

A city of about 23,000 population, Galt has 105 full-time employees and a general fund budget of about $6.2 million. However, about 33 of the employees are members of the Galt Police Officers Association and aren't included in the recommendation for raises at tonight's City Council meeting, according to Islas.

A separate salary survey of the police department was recently conducted under separate contract negotiations, she added.

The $520,715 cost to the city, which would come from seven funds, includes the cost of health benefits and other benefits, Islas said.

Anderson's possible 7.62 percent raise stems from a formula that gives the salary of the top step for the city manager's position, compared with the median salary for the city manager in the 11 surveyed cities, including Lodi.

Cities used for salary comparison

Brentwood
Ceres
Dixon
Lathrop
Lodi
Manteca
Marysville
Oakdale
Placerville
West Sacramento
Woodland
- Source: Bryce Consulting

The top step of the salary schedule for the city manager's position in Galt is $10,779 per month, while the median among the 11 cities used in the comparison is $11,686. The city's goal is to keep Galt in the middle range among the 11 cities.

Building Official Al Goss stands to get a nearly 16 percent raise because of a discrepancy in his salary, compared with other cities. The top level of Goss' position in Galt is $6,620, while the median of the surveyed cities is $7,464.

The council contracted with Bryce Consulting to compare employee salaries in Galt with those in Brentwood, Ceres, Dixon, Lathrop, Lodi, Manteca, Marysville, Oakdale, Placerville, West Sacramento and Woodland.

The cities were chosen due to several factors, including organizational structure, population, scope of services and similarity of the labor market.

Larger cities like Sacramento, Elk Grove, Stockton and Tracy were not included in the survey because Galt doesn't have a similar pay scale, Islas said.

While at least two City Council members say the salary increases are needed to keep good employees from moving to other cities with more lucrative wages, some local residents question the need for such a high level of raises.

"They're giving raises to these people when they are also increasing the amount of police in Galt," said active Galt resident Al Baldwin. "I don't know if they can afford it and increase (the number of) police officers."

John Slaughterback, a critic of the city's handling of the sewer plant finances, was alarmed to learn about the city's proposal to the council.

"That's a lot of money, a half-million dollars," Slaughterback said. "They're drawing some pretty good money, some of them. A small city like Galt, we have too many employees."

Vice Mayor Randy Shelton and Councilman Tim Raboy, however, support increasing employee salaries to keep in line with the other cities.

"I don't know how to get around it," Raboy said. "We've got a dilemma. We have to listen to what the public wants, but we have to keep employees at the right level."

Shelton said, "On a personal note, if we have the funding, it's the right thing to do. Basically, it's a cost-of-living increase."

Vosburgh, the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association director, said he doesn't think cities like Galt would experience a mass employee exodus because their salaries are lower than other cities.

"Not everyone will go to another city and uproot their home," Vosburgh said.

Employees may stay where they are, he added, if they think they work for a well-run city.

"Where is this Mr. Midas?" Baldwin asked rhetorically. "Everything we touch must turn to gold if we can afford all this. Will this result in higher taxes?"

Today's Galt City Council meeting will begin at 7 p.m. at City Hall, 380 Civic Dr. The salary survey report is available on line at http://www.ci.galt.ca.us/site/Council/Agenda/A20060321%20Packet.pdf.

Proposed pay increases
Here is a sampling of the proposed raises for city positions, based on a salary survey of 11 other cities. The city provided monthly salaries for the top step of each city position, and the amount of the new top step. However, the percentage listed is the actual rate of the salary increase, regardless of what step the employee is in the salary schedule.
Title Current Proposed Percent
top step top step increase
City manager $10,779 $11,600 7.62
Building official $6,620 $7,624 15.17
Accounting assistant I $2,724 $2,910 6.83
Street superintendent $5,447 $6,144 17.75
Wastewater operator I $3,393 $3,546 4.51
- Source: Bryce Consulting

Contact reporter Ross Farrow at rossf@lodinews.com.

First published: Tuesday, March 21, 2006

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