Council approves annual wage increases for city employees

Sean C. Morgan

The Sweet Home City Council last week approved 2.5-percent annual raises for its non-union employees.

The council voted 7-0 during its regular meeting on Sept. 27 to approve the raises, the same increase included in a contract with the city’s general employees that was ratified two weeks earlier.

The total cost of the raises over three years will be an estimated $54,000, said Finance Director Pat Gray.

Non-union employees include department heads, supervisors and certain office managers and administrative assistants.

Following the decision, department heads receiving raises include Library Director Rose Peda, $5,303 per month; the vacant community development director position, which earns $5,703 per month at the first step and $6,671 per month at the fifth step; Finance Director Pat Gray, $6,671 per month; Public Works Director Mike Adams, $6,671 per month; and the vacant city manager position, which has a five-year range of $7,449 to $8,712 monthly salary.

Police Chief Jeff Lynn and Police Department supervisors were not included. The council is still negotiating with the police union.

The new city manager’s salary is subject to negotiations between the council and the city manager.

Employees who have worked for eight years continuously receive an additional 2 percent. They include Gray and Adams.

Employees advance one step annually based on positive performance evaluations. Under tight financial conditions, the City Council has frozen step increases for non-union employees.

Present at the meeting were councilors James Goble, Ryan Underwood, Greg Mahler, Mayor Jim Gourley, Dave Trask, Jeff Goodwin and Diane Gerson.

In other business, the council:

– Approved the expenditure of $32,700 to pay for additions to its wastewater facility plan.

On June 11, 2013, the city of Sweet Home entered into an agreement with Brown and Caldwell, Inc., to complete a wastewater facility plan to bring the city’s wastewater system into regulatory compliance.

During heavy rains, inflow and infiltration, water that leaks into deteriorated pipes or through cross connections from the storm system to the sewer system, can overload the Wastewater Treatment Plant, forcing the city to bypass untreated wastewater into the South Santiam River.

The city has replaced sewer pipes to reduce the amount of inflow and infiltration, but it has not reduced it enough. Replacing pipes no longer affects the reductions as much as it had, Adams has explained. The cost for reducing inflow and infiltration that way is increasing, and the city will likely find that improvements at the plant will be more inexpensive for the amount of reduction it can achieve.

The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality has reviewed a draft plan completed by Brown and Caldwell, Adams said last week. It is requiring population projection updates prior to approving the plan.

Following an unexpected storm in late 2015, Adams said, the city also needs to provide flow projection updates incorporating the event.

The total cost of the plan will increase to $343,600.

– Held the second reading of an ordinance changing the council’s regular meeting time from 7:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. on the second and fourth Tuesdays of the month. The third reading will be held during the council’s regular meeting on Oct. 11. Following the third reading, the council may vote on whether to adopt the ordinance.