By Debby Woodin
JOPLIN, Mo. —
Joplin city administrators were given 4 percent raises during a special City Council meeting on Tuesday in the last steps toward implementing a new pay plan the council has been wrangling with for six years.
Council members voted to award the raises to the council’s employees in line with a pay plan adopted last year.
City Manager Mark Rohr, who currently earns $145,631, will receive a raise of $5,825. The city attorney, Brian Head, who earns $94,536, will be given a raise of $3,781. The municipal judge, Alex B. Curchin, will receive a raise of $3,601 on his salary of $90,035. The city clerk, Barbara Hogelin, earns $55,230 and is to be given an increase of $2,209. The raises will be effective May 1.
The council has held a series of closed sessions over a period of several months related to discussions about job evaluations and job descriptions.
A 33-minute closed session began at 5 p.m. Tuesday, after which the council reconvened in open session and voted on the raises. One council member, Benjamin Rosenberg, was absent.
Talks have been held periodically since 2007 on changing the pay plan with the objective of getting away from longevity as the basis for raises or awarding across-the-board increases.
Council members first looked at scrapping the city’s range-and-step pay plan for a pay-for-performance type. Pay-for-performance ultimately was rejected as too expensive and weighted toward department heads and supervisors.
The council then looked at five types of plans, narrowing them down to two. One type, a plan based on performance and competency, was approved in June. The performance-based plan had strong opposition from three council members, who ultimately voted against it and favored the city’s range-and-step plan. That type of plan bases raises largely on longevity; the performance-based plan is influenced by employee evaluations, education and achievements toward goals.
The council agreed to try the plan and re-evaluate its application and effectiveness in two years.
The council authorized an allocation in this year’s budget to pay for reclassifying the jobs and pay rates of employees under the new plan.
When the pay plan was approved in June, there were 430 city workers, and the total payroll was $17.2 million. The range-and-step plan would have cost about $523,000 more to put back into place. The plan that was adopted will cost about $330,000 to implement.
The council delayed the effective dates of the new job titles until all the job descriptions could be rewritten and assigned, which is expected to be finished by May.
SALARY SURVEYS of other cities are used to measure Joplin employees’ pay. The city has previously been considered lower paying than some other cities of similar size.