FD council OK’s $137K in raises

Raises for 61 non-union employees were approved by the Fort Dodge City Council Monday.

Those workers will receive a 1.25 percent raise on July 1, and a 2 percent raise on Jan. 1, 2014.

The increases will cost the city $137,134.74 during the 2013-2014 fiscal year. They are intended to mirror raises awarded to members of American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 61, which were included in their newest contract.

Jeff Nemmers, the city clerk and finance director, said money for the Jan. 1 raise was included in the 2013-2014 budget. Money for the July 1 raise was not included, but he said a variety of cost-saving measures will ensure that the city has the money for the raises. Those cost savings include some personnel turnover that resulted in new staffers being hired at lower pay grades, and a reduction in the amount of money paid for impounding dogs and cats picked up by the animal control officer.

Nemmers said the July 1 raise amounts to .3 percent of the general fund budget.

”The pay raise is probably deserved for a lot of them,” Councilman Mark Taylor said.

However, he said he objected to awarding the raises.

”We just keep running things up higher and higher,” he said. ”Where are we going to stop?”

Taylor said he would have voted against the raise. He did not do so because the raise was included in a collection of business items, called the consent agenda, which is approved or rejected on a single vote. At nearly every meeting, council members remove items from the consent agenda so that they can be debated and acted upon individually. However, no one removed the measure regarding the raises from the consent agenda, which was approved in its entirety. Councilmen Dave Flattery and Andy Fritz were absent from the otherwise unanimous vote.

In other business, the council endorsed an effort to have a large stone covered with a patriotic painting placed on the city’s west side near the Karl King Bridge. The Freedom Rock would be similar to one found in southwest Iowa.

If the city’s application is approved by the leadership of the Freedom Rock Tour, the stone would be placed and painted in 2015.

Also on Monday, Taylor recommended that the city’s animal control officer be assigned to deal with complaints about wild animals such as skunks, raccoons and opossums.

”I think a wild animal in somebody’s yard is just as important for safety purposes as a cat or a dog running loose in the neighborhood,” he said. ”I think we should take care of it if there’s a wild animal running loose in town.”

The council is scheduled to continue reviewing a proposed overhaul of the animal control laws during its June 24 meeting.