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Council backs city pay increases
Wage package to be voted on Aug. 16
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The City of Great Bend will adjust upwards its pay scale for all employees from $1 per hour up to 5%, and put in place an annual method of offering pay raises to personnel. That was the consensus of the City Council meeting Monday night in a work session called to discuss wages for 2022.

No formal action was taken. The matter will come to a vote when the council meets Monday, Aug. 16.

This would mark the first salary structure adjustment since the last was approved by the council in 2019, City Administrator Kendal Francis said. That was based on a compensation study done in 2018.

“This is basically a two-part plan for wages,” he said. First is the $1-5% increase to the pay scale.

“We are proposing a $1 per hour increase for the minimum pay and a 5% increase to the maximum pay amounts for levels 1-7 (the lower tier of staff),” he said. “These are our entry-level positions where we are struggling to find and keep new staff and a 5% increase on these levels was insignificant.”

City administrators met with Mayor Cody Schmidt and two council members a few weeks ago and it was suggested a higher increase for the entry-level positions was in order. This led to the $1 hike for some positions.

Both the minimum and maximum amounts for all other levels, as well as public safety personnel, would be increased by 5% as well. 

“Our proposal would move the pay scale 5%” for new hires,” Francis said. Current staff would receive a 2% cost-of-living-adjustment and have the potential for an additional 3% increase based on their evaluation score.

Part two of the plan looks to the future starting in 2022, he said. “Going forward, we would give a percentage of council-approved pay increase (whatever that may be) in the form of a COLA and the rest would be merit based.”

In making his case, Francis cited the Consumer Price Index that showed since 2019, inflation has risen 5.5%, Social Security has given a 5.7% COLA increase since 2019, and the US Bureau of Labor Statistics notes the employment cost index for state and local governments has increased 6.7% since 2019.

Also, he noted, the Great Bend Recreation Commission approved 3% pay increases and Barton Community College is looking at raises of possibly 10%.

“We need everybody here, from the top to the bottom, to make this city run,” Schmidt said. 

Ward 1 Councilwoman Lindsey Krom-Craven was part of the team that met with administrators. She said she left that meeting endorsing the hike.

However, “we keep hearing ‘it’s the money, it’s the money,’” Ward Council Woman Jolene Biggs said. She was skeptical, noting some have left the city for lower paying jobs due to the work environment.

“This won’t help those who are going to leave,” Krom-Craven said. “But, it might improved employee satisfaction.”

There were concerns about the equity of the merit pay system, and questions about shifting more of the increases to the lower end of the pay scale and how many staff members have maxxed out their pay range.

However, in the end, the council unanimously backed the proposal.

“We have to look at do we do to do everything we can to keep these positions filled,” Schmidt said. “You need people to make the machine run.”

Francis said the proposed pay increases were factored into the budget he put forth when the council held its budget work session last Monday night.

Great Bend City Council meeting at a glance

Here is a quick look at what the Great Bend City Council did Monday night:

• Held work session to discuss 2022 city wages.

• Approved a conditional use permit for Wheatland Electric’s wind energy conversion system to be installed at 200 10th Street.

On May 17, the council adopted an ordinance allowing a conditional use permit to be issued for wind energy conversion systems (WECS) to be placed in M zones subject to certain restrictions and conditions, City Attorney Bob Suelter said. Wheatland has applied for a permit for installation of a WECS at its property 200 10th St. 

The request meets all conditions set out in the ordinance, Suelter said. A hearing was held at the June 28 Planning Commission meeting and at the conclusion of the hearing the commission recommended the permit be issued.

On May 17, the council amended the city’s zoning ordinance to allow WECS within the city limits. This amendment provided for a WECS within the city in M-1, M-2, and M-3 (light industrial district, heavy industrial district and industrial park district) if a conditional use permit is issued. 

• Approved the 2021 street chip-and-seal project bid from Circle C Paving of Goddard.

For the 2021 year, the city is going to be doing chip and seal with a fog seal top coating on residential streets on approximately 70 blocks, Public Works Director Jason Cauley said. “We received only one bid for this project from Circle C Paving for $248,850, despite sending invites to several companies as well as putting bids out through our typical bid process.”

City crews will be doing some full-depth patching before the chip seal is applied, especially around 17th Street Terrace. he said.

A fog seal is a light application of a diluted slow-setting asphalt emulsion (a thin liquid oil).

The streets included are in the north central, northwestern and western parts of the city.

Cauley said the city has a $400,000 balance in available in the street fund.

• Held three executive sessions totally 65 minutes to conduct the evaluation of City Administrator Kendal Francis. They reconvened in open session and approved a reevaluation in 90 days.

The contract with Francis requires that a review be carried out annually on his anniversary date of July 30.

• Heard an update from City Administrator Kendal Francis.

• Heard an update from Christina Hayes, Convention and Visitors Bureau director and community coordinator.

• Approved various permissions for Party in the Park Saturday, Aug. 14.

• Approved the Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) waiver for 2021.

Each year the city requests a waiver from the GAAP for the reporting of city’s financial statements and to allow the City to use the regulatory basis of accounting under the Kansas Municipal Audit and Accounting Guide, said City Clerk/Finance Director Shawna Schafer.

The KMAAG regulatory basis does not recognize capital assets, long-term debt, or accrued receivables and payables other than accounts payable and encumbrance obligations. This makes more sense for the city’s auditing purposes.

• Approved abatements for accumulation of trash and refuse at: 1441 2ND, Misael Rodriguez; 418 Dogwood, Ivan Galindo Coronel; 313 Evergreen, Jorge and Edevelia Alvarez; 910 9th, Sandpiper, Mobile Holdings LLC.; 812 Pine Place, Mjlinares Properties LLC. and TM Acquisitions LLC.; 823 Pine Place, Mjlinares Properties LLC.; 518 Odell, Consuela and Villa Cesar Cardenas; 407 McKinley, Mark D. and Krista G. Ball; 2718 20th, Linda Graves; 2406 18th, Ishmael A. Montelongo; 1314 Morphy, January R. Pecora; 1305 Morphy, Around The Clock Bails Bondsman;  1201 Odell, Lee F. Culling; 1019 Jefferson, Tyson Sanders; and 2306 Adams, Brianna Feist.

• Approved an abatement for removal of trees, shrubs obstruct view at 722 Baker, James Vanass.

• Approved an abatement for motor Vehicle nuisance at 2311 Polk, Richard L. and Glenda R. Zimmerman.