Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Considering Cost of Living Adjustments

The Springdale City Council's Finance Committee, composed of all members of the council, met yesterday to consider cost-of-living raises for the city's 483 employees. Several motions were proposed for a 1.5% increase for all employees, 1.5% for all but elected officials, 1.5% for all but elected officials and department heads, and 2.2% for all city employees. All motions failed.

The Fayetteville City Council, also facing a tight budget and declining revenues, is also struggling with salary and cost-of-living increase issues. Mayor Dan Coody (currently visiting Paris) and his administration have ignored a Classification and Compensation Study submitted by out of state consultants from the Management Advisory Group Inc. of Tallahassee, Florida, which costs thousands of taxpayers dollars. The city had enough money to pay the consultants their fat fees,but now they don't have enough money to pay the recommended minimum salaries for city employees.

That Florida consulting corporation was hired after problems resulted from a 2005 study by other out of state consultants from Condrey and Associates of Bogart, Georgia, which was useless because it was not delivered until after the 2006 budget was adopted. Dr. Susan Thomas Ph.D., the city's public information officer, said she could not determine who was responsible for the delivery date being pushed back on that report or whether there were any extensions granted. They still got paid with your tax dollars.

Here's a simple suggestion for both cities. Decide how much money you have and are willing to spend for cost of living wage adjustments for employees, then divide that by the number of employees to determine the cost of living adjustment for each employee. The cost of milk for their children or a gallon of gas to get to work went up the same for custodians making less than $20 thousand as it did for $100,000+ bureaucrats like Gary Dumas, so give everyone an equal COLA bump in salary. That's fair, and it is a more meaningful measure of support for dedicated city employees than the stunt of wearing red bandanas. Unless, of course, you think some employees are more equal than others.

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