JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - A proposed new pay plan for Jonesboro city employees could mean a bigger paycheck in the coming weeks.
At the Jonesboro City Council Finance Committee meeting Tuesday, Chairman Darrell Dover walked on an ordinance regarding a more than $1 million pay plan for city employees.
"It's a start, it's not the finish," Dover said.
For the past 6 months, a committee, appointed by Jonesboro Mayor Harold Perrin, has been looking at longevity, compression, raises, and incentives for employees.
"We have been able to come to a decision on three of those," Dover said. "We are still doing some review of the incentive plan. We hope to come back with that recommendation within a month."
Dover said the committee learned that Jonesboro city employees were paid 6.57% below market salaries.
"This plan will get us to about 3.5%," Dover said.
The market analysis provided by the Johansen Group involved cities of similar population like Fayetteville, Fort Smith, Rogers, Springdale, Bentonville, North Little Rock, Conway, Paragould and Pine Bluff.
Dover said per this plan, every full-time city employee would receive a $1,000 pay increase. To address longevity pay, all full-time employees with more than one year of service will receive an annual payment of $75 per year employed, topping out at 30 years.
"The thing that we wanted to try to accomplish in this whole process was to come up with a plan that going forward, everyone knows where they're at and where they're going to be," Dover said.
Dover said the council and mayor will address cost of living adjustments and raises annually.
"Our goal is to get all of our employees to the mid-point as soon as we can," Dover said. "Hopefully it won't take but one or two years to get there."
Though the committee looked into the issue for 6 months, some Jonesboro police officers went before the city council more than a year ago to address their concerns with pay.
Since that time, many officers have left for better paying jobs at other police departments or the private sector.
Councilman Reverend Doctor Charles Coleman asked Jonesboro Police Chief Rick Elliott if the money would help with getting more officers hired onto the department.
"The past 2 years of the budget, we have not added any new additional officers. What we're dealing with right now, that is not including any additional officers, only replacing the ones that I'm short," Chief Elliott said.
Currently, Chief Elliott said he needs to fill 7 vacant officer positions at the police department.
Chief Elliott said if the city were to hire new officers, it would have to be in next year's budget.
"This year's budget was very tight," Chief Elliott said. "I forgo asking for additional bodies to get this salary plan through. I thought it was important that we get what we have taken care of first before we ask for any additional bodies."
Regardless, Chief Elliott said he had hoped the men and women of the force would receive a little more money than they did.
"The city looked at it as a whole package; city-wide instead of just focusing on police and fire. Again, for my end of it, I was hoping for a little bit more for my guys and gals but I understand the city's take on it that it has to kind of be spread out," Chief Elliott said.
Chief Elliott did say the department is working toward obtaining a "Cops for Hire" grant that could potentially add 5 officers through that funding. The grant would pay 75% of their salaries for three years.
As for all city employees, Dover said the salary and longevity committee will not disband now that they have presented a salary plan. He said they plan to meet quarterly to review the plan.
"Get a report from our chief financial officer on where we're at financially and gauge where the tax revenue is coming in. That way we can start planning for next year in June and not November," Dover said.
Councilman Dover told the Finance Committee he also plans to recommend that a committee be formed to look into how much the city needs in reserve funds.
"To develop a policy for our reserves and some type of formula that we can arrive at what is adequate reserves for this city," Dover said. "I know our council now says 15%. I want that researched and looked at to come back with a definite plan as to why it's X, Y or Z."
Dover stated doing so would help tremendously in their budgeting process.
The full Jonesboro city council will review the salary plan at their next meeting on Feb. 16.
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