JONESBORO, AR -- They were throwing around some big numbers at Tuesday night's Jonesboro City Council meeting and it wasn't a drainage project or street improvements those figures are going toward, it was salaries. When it came to a vote, it wasn't even a question whether to raise these salaries; this issue was one that passed with flying colors.
The city of Jonesboro wanted to know. Are we paying our employees too much or too little? They did a survey to find out and the numbers came back lower than some expected. Some city employees weren't even close to getting average pay for their work.
"I think it's important to keep good employees and also to attract new employees when you need to. I feel like we want to fair to our city employees and pay them a fair wage," says Jonesboro Alderman Darrel Dover.
Two elected officials and four department heads will receive salary increases that bring their salary up to the average found in comparable Arkansas cities. For instance Police Chief Mike Yates will get about a 4,000 dollar raise. Fire Chief Keller will get an 11,000 dollar raise, but the big winner is City Clerk Donna Jackson who will get a 14,000 dollar raise. All increases that Darrel Dover, who is head of the finance committee, says are important for keeping their pay up to par.
"You run the risk of high turnover and I think that that's very important in a city as fast as we're growing, having people here who have experience. Then there's also training costs if you train someone and they leave in a short period of time," says Dover.
And he says employees often leave for more money, so making sure they're paid well in their positions here in Jonesboro is very important. We caught up with Fire Chief Keller after the raises were approved.
"I feel like we need to be at least average because i feel like we're an average or even above average town," says Chief Keller.
Keller added he is proud to work for a city who realizes when a change needs to be made.
"The city is growing and so are our departments and more responsibilities are on us. Just this year, I've grown by 16 firefighters and another fire station and we've got a five year plan going so I think they understand that it's deserving," adds Keller.