Pelham repeals Mercer pay plan

Published 9:13 pm Monday, December 17, 2012


PELHAM – The Pelham City Council unanimously voted to repeal the city’s pay plan, which was adopted by Pelham’s previous council in 2011, during a Dec. 17 meeting.

In October 2011, Pelham’s council narrowly approved the Mercer pay scale during a special-called meeting, putting into place an 18-grade, 18-step pay scale for city employees.

During a Dec. 17 work session, Mayor Gary Waters said he has held committee meetings to discuss a new pay plan a “comprehensive overhaul” with “input from all levels of employees of the city.”

The Mercer pay plan will be repealed Feb. 1, 2013, and Waters plans to have a new plan prepared at that time. Waters estimated he is about a “fourth” of the way through the process of developing a new plan.

“It was enacted illegally and needs to go,” Council President Rick Hayes said. “It still eats me up that 30 percent of our staff will take a hit by this.”

Waters previously said that about 30 percent of city employees will see a reduction in pay after the council repeals the Mercer pay plan.

“It’s been a very difficult issue to address. The pay plan was enacted against a state law, and we needed to address that,” Hayes said.

During the work session, the council also discussed updating health insurance benefits for retired city employees.

Currently, employees can receive retirement benefits if they worked for the city 25 years or worked 10 years and turned 60 years old. For either qualification, retirees pay 20 percent to the city’s 80 percent for benefits.

“We have people that have retired from their first career and came to Pelham. Then they hit 60 and have better benefits than those who worked longer,” Waters said. “It’s fundamentally wrong and something I’d like to fix.”

The council discussed a plan that would have retirees pay 50 percent of the premiums in the benefits package.

“We’re trying to not identify age or years of service to make it fair across the board,” Human Resource Manager Janice Parks said.

In other business, the council:

-Authorized Waters to send a “memorandum of understanding,” not a contractual document to Summer Classics to move forward with the Moore-Handley property opportunity.

-Discussed sewer rate alternatives, including returning to prices before last raise, a fixed price for residential customers or variable prices for non-summer usage for residential customers.

-Discussed letting a bid for printing and producing the city’s newsletter.

-Approved a resolution for a one-time voluntary employee vacation time sell back opportunity, which won’t exceed 40 hours per employee, on Dec. 21.

-The Jan. 7, 2013 City Council meeting has been rescheduled to Jan. 8 at 7 p.m.