CITY OF TOWER
Clerk-Treasurer pay must meet state guidelines
Jodi Summit

TOWER- With less than a month of work under her belt, Tower’s new Clerk-Treasurer Linda Keith will be getting a significant raise.

At Monday’s special meeting, the council voted 3-1, with Billy Hiltunen voting against, to approve a new pay scale for the Clerk-Treasurer, because her salary did not meet state guidelines for pay equity.

State pay equity guidelines require municipalities to submit their pay scales to the state for approval. Each job is given a point rating, determined by the job description and state guidelines. Pay scales for more highly-rated positions need to be at a higher level than those rated lower. For example, the state rates a city clerk higher than a maintenance foreman because city clerks supervise the maintenance foreman, so the clerk’s pay in the first year of service needs to be higher than the maintenance foreman in the first year of service, because the maintenance job duties are rated lower.

The council has struggled with pay equity issues in the past, with several on the council not agreeing with the state rules which state the clerk’s wages must be higher than the maintenance foreman’s.

“I’d like to throw it all out,” said Hiltunen. “They are telling us what we have to pay.”

Hiltunen noted the council had made their hiring decision partially due to the fact that they would be saving a substantial amount in salary costs by hiring a new clerk.

The council had initially set the new Clerk-Treasurer salary at $40,000 a year, which works out to $19.23 per hour.

Keith presented a new pay equity scale to the council which insured that the clerk’s rate would always track above the maintenance foreman’s, which currently starts out at $19.01 per hour. The current maintenance foreman, Randy Johnson, has 23 years of experience, and his rate of pay is currently $22.50 per hour, reflecting his longevity on the job. The new rate starts out the clerk at $22.22, an increase of $2.99 per hour, for a total annual increase of $6,219.

Keith said she looked at other similarly-sized cities’ pay scales when figuring the new pay scale, and went with the low end of the averages. The state pay equity guideline rates the maintenance foreman at 78% of the clerk, in terms of job duties and responsibility.

The actual pay rate does not need to be pegged to the exact percentage, Keith noted. In this case, it reflects an approximate 14% increase in pay (versus the 22% difference in rating).

Keith noted this pay scale is still significantly lower than in past years, when the city was paying approximately $60,000 a year for Tim Kotzian, and then $51,900 for Ann Lamppa. The city is also saving a significant amount on benefits, since they no longer offer family medical coverage. Keith also noted that the city will be negotiating with both its unions (MAPE and AFSCME) this year.

Other business

‰ The council decided to put metal grates on an open culvert on North Third Street, instead of replacing the culvert as requested by a resident. The city engineer noted the area in question would require a concrete culvert, which was more expensive than a metal one. The council also worried this would set a precendent for other residents. The resident had offered to do the excavation work himself, but the city was worried about liability issues.

‰ Decided to place some used culverts and new fill in an area on South Second Street that is experiencing drainage issues. The work can be done by the city maintenance staff.

‰ Gave permission for Good Ol’ Days to block off a portion of the adjacent side street on July 4, and extend the closure through July 5 only if live music/entertainment will be offered the second day. Otherwise, the street must be reopened the morning of July 5. Josh Carlson voted no on this motion, noting that no reason had been given for the request to close the street the second day.

‰ The council approved two new EMTs: Nicole Carlson and Ariana Suihkonen.

‰ Approved a request from Benchwarmer’s to allow customers to set up chairs on the lawn behind their deck on July 4, when they will be having live music out on the deck.

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