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City fails to approve raises

Caitlin Rickard crickard@lebanondemocrat.com • Updated Nov 5, 2013 at 8:30 PM

The Lebanon City Council met Tuesday where one-step employee raises were again a topic of contention between the council.

Previously, council had passed an ordinance that would give one-step raises to some employees.

The ordinance would only give the raises to those who didn’t receive a pay increase or promotion included in the 2013-14 fiscal year budget, and those who did receive a raise then would be excluded from this one-step increase.

The ordinance passed on first reading Sept. 3, and council met in a work session to discuss the issue before its final passage Oct. 29.

Mayor Philip Craighead then vetoed the ordinance Oct. 31.

From the beginning, Craighead questioned the fairness of not including all employees in the across-the-board raises.

“The problem with this amended [ordinance] is that it stops short of reaching the finish line for all our employees,” Craighead said in a statement. “On this, I feel it is totally wrong to omit 20-plus employees from an across-the-board raise. The positions, which have been excluded, are those jobs which have been reorganized for cost savings; individuals who have applied and received new jobs within the city to fill vacancies, and have received certificates within their descriptions so they become more professional at what they do.

“To leave these 20 employees behind to me is much like army service mentality of never leaving a fellow soldier behind on the battlefield. This is also totally wrong in that it goes against our own personnel handbook.”

Craighead cited a section on general pay increases that said raises “shall be applied equally to all grades of the pay plan in order to maintain the same degree of spread between grades and steps within grades.”

At council’s meeting Tuesday, with Councilors Fred Burton and Kathy Warmath absent, there were no motions to override Craighead’s veto.

Craighead then proposed an ordinance on first reading to the council that would give across-the-board raises to all city employees.

“I’ve said it before, but I’m against across-the-board raises,” Councilor Rob Cesternino said. “I don’t mean to be rude, but everyone can think of that one employee that doesn’t deserve a raise and that one employee that deserves more than a one-step raise.

“I’m going to support this this one time, but I’ll never vote yes for another one,” Cesternino said.

Craighead then asked council to consider amending his ordinance to extend to part-time employees, which he said would cost an additional $6,300.

“If we’re going to do it we need to do it for everyone. Across-the-board means every single person,” Cesternino said.

Councilor Lanny Jewell said he felt like the ordinance had “quirks” and some people would be getting “short-changed” and some employees, ones that already received a raise, would be receiving more than others.

Craighead said by not giving those who already received a raise the one-step increase he thought it seemed as if the city would be encouraging people not to step up.

Councilor Tick Bryan said, point blank, he didn’t want to leave anyone out.

Council then first voted on an amendment to the ordinance that would include adding the part-time employees to receive raises.

The amendment passed 4-0.

Next, council voted on the ordinance as amended to include all employees. With councilors Cesternino and Bryan voting yes and Jewell and Joe Hayes voting no, the ordinance failed 2-2.

“We need to get together to figure out what’s going on,” Bryan said. “I want to know everyone’s reasoning behind their thinking and voting for this because it’s really looking bad.”

Council is set to meet in a work session Nov. 13 to discuss the one-step raises again.

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