Fireworks didn’t go off Monday night at the Stanley Fire Hall, but there was tension as new hire Dan Demske was approved at $27 an hour for the position of Public Works Water Operator to start …
Fireworks didn’t go off Monday night at the Stanley Fire Hall, but there was tension as new hire Dan Demske was approved at $27 an hour for the position of Public Works Water Operator to start November 1, while a miscommuncation on the city’s part had left current workers out of the loop on the prospective pay increase for applying to the position, one to which they would otherwise be interested for the position.
The tension started when Council member Rick Hodowanic asked the question of pay for the new hire, with a failed motion to table the issue after Laurie Foster announced that it wasn’t fair to offer the rate of $27 an hour as such when current city workers with more experience made less. Demske was said to have electrical and HVAC certification and would be taking a pay decrease, while the only other two applicants for the position only had drywall experience Responding to the tension Mayor Al Haas and others expressed that the city was aware of the need to bring wages of current workers in line with their fair due, but that public works employees and others needed to be patient.
“We can’t guarantee anything,” Haas said. “We can guarantee raises but not a specific amount." The question was a matter of figuring out budget math, while Council member Jason Meyer noted that the city was capped on what it could do for property taxes, with penalties from the state kicking in if it tried to adjust finances.
“That’s why we were excited about the duplexes going in,” he said of Fifth Avenue and other construction that could help the city grow its property tax base.
As things stand, it seems the upcoming budget would do well to make worker salaries and compensation for experience a priority, while the possibility that current water operator Don Goettl with 27 years experience might retire in the next few years makes another reason to get its fiscal house in order. With near everyone scrambling to find workers, three applications might be seen as the good old days in just a couple year’s time.