It’s no secret the cost of living is growing each day. It can be seen in the grocery store, at the gas pump and in our utility bills.
For this reason, it was appropriate for the Lebanon City Council to revisit talks of raises for city employees. Thankfully increasing sales tax revenues, which signal a recovering economy, will be the driving force behind funding these raises without affecting the city’s current budget.
But where the council faltered in its judgment was not including all city employees in the raises.
Councilor Kathy Warmath said she thought the ordinance was intended to give a raise 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 should be excluded in this one-step increase.
Mayor Philip Craighead said he didn’t believe excluding anyone from a pay increase was the right thing to do.
“We had some restructuring, and we asked people to step up and take on more responsibilities and these people stepped up for the city,” Craighead said. “It’s not fair. I feel like we need to take care of our employees. Excluding a certain amount of people is not in my thinking.”
Craighead said about 18-20 people would be excluded from the raises.
Councilor Tick Bryan said he thought if the council was going to give raises then it had to give them to everyone.
“Everyone up here wants employee raises, but I don’t want to leave anyone out of the raises. We need to make this fair for everyone and not just exclude 18 people,” Bryan said. “If we do it that way then we’re opening a can of worms, and if I was one of those people excluded I’d be one with a can opener.”
City attorney Andy Wright said the city’s personnel rules and regulations, which were passed by ordinance, state they are supposed to give everyone a raise when doing a general pay increase, and excluding people could possibly raise a red flag or make the city liable for omitting people.
This issue needs to be readdressed and soon. There are too many reasons why not doing so would be detrimental to morale and could lead to a lawsuit.