Mayor: New pay plan crucial to city’s 2014 budget

By NEAL WAGNER / City Editor

The Pelham Personnel Board is “about 99 percent done” with a new city employee pay plan, but Mayor Gary Waters is pushing the board to approve it quickly to allow the city to construct its 2014 fiscal year budget.

“We are in the jumping-off point for our 2014 budget. I just want them to pass something,” Waters said of the Personnel Board. “They are trying to perfect something that, by design, is supposed to be a living, imperfect document.”

Waters said he shared his displeasure with the Personnel Board during a July 17 meeting, and said he would like the board to approve the document as quickly as possible.

“To say I was displeased (it hasn’t been approved yet) is an understatement,” Waters said during a July 22 phone interview.

Personnel Board members said they likely will approve the plan during their July 24 meeting at Pelham City Hall.

After the Personnel Board approves the plan, the Pelham City Council will then schedule a public hearing on the matter before voting on it during an upcoming meeting.

The Personnel Board did not approve the plan during its July 17 meeting because pay amounts for a few employee classifications have not yet been finalized, board members said.

“We would very much like to move forward with this,” Personnel Board member Greg Darnell said on July 22. “I think we’ll be able to accomplish that on Wednesday night.”

Darnell said the City Council could vote to suspend the rules of order and vote on the new pay plan the same night as the public hearing to expedite the process. After a new pay plan is passed, it will be distributed to the city’s department heads to use while budgeting for the upcoming year.

“We are 99 percent done with it. We’ve just got three classifications we’ve still got to look at,” said Personnel Board member Jim Collins. “My expectation is that we will finalize it Wednesday night. We are ready to get on with it.”

The new pay plan originally was scheduled to go into effect on April 1, but it was delayed until June 1 because of a pending lawsuit against the city. In June, council members delayed the pay plan until October to give themselves a chance to review it after it is finalized by the Personnel Board.

The city began formulating a new pay plan nearly a year ago after Waters said the city’s current pay plan violates Pelham’s civil service law.