Non-union city staff gets salary bump

Non-represented Oak Harbor employees and elected officials will get a cost-of-living increase.

Non-represented employees with the city of Oak Harbor, including elected officials, will get a cost-of-living increase that’s retroactive this year and then another next year.

In addition, all city staff will pay less in premiums for dependent health care insurance and will get an extra holiday beginning next year.

Members of the city council unanimously passed a resolution making the changes last week. The measures will cost the city about $480,000 for this year and next combined.

The action came less than a week after a workshop in which the results of a staff morale survey were revealed. Mayor Bob Severns said cost-of-living increases were an immediate action that could be taken to boost morale.

Some of the staff members also complained about the lack of cost-of-living adjustments for employees who aren’t part of a union. The employees in unions — such as police officers, firefighters and most public works staff — receive the inflation-related raises through negotiations.

Nobody at the council meeting, however, referred to the survey on staff morale when adopting the resolution.

Human Resources Director Emma House explained that the non-represented employees with get a 2% raise this year, retroactive to Jan. 1, 2021, and another effective Jan. 1, 2022.

House pointed out that a city policy is to pay employees sufficiently.

“Providing adequate compensation to city employees promotes productivity, reduces turnover, and improves the city’s ability to attract and retain qualified personnel to carry out the functions of city government,” she said, quoting city code.

The list of non-represented employees includes the city administrator, department managers, supervisors, departments leads, engineers, administrative assistants, paralegals and program coordinators.

In addition, the city’s elected leaders will also get salary increases. The city’s salary commission, made up of community volunteers, decided in 2019 that “the salary for mayor and council members shall be increased by the cost of living adjustment provided to the non-represented employees.”

The mayor, who is considered a part-time employee, earns about $57,000 a year and council members get just over $700 a month, the salary commission report states.

In addition, Oak Harbor is the only city in the state with a population between 15,000 and 29,999 that provides health care benefits to council members or a part-time mayor, the report states.

The fiscal impact of the adjustments is $141,000 this year and $289,000 next year.

The resolution also changes the percentage of health insurance premiums that all employees pay for dependent and family coverage. Employees currently pay 25% of the cost and the city covers the rest. Beginning on Jan. 1, 2022, the employees will pay 20%.

The change will cost the city $50,000 a year.

The resolution also adds Juneteenth to the list of city paid holidays.

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