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Council Approves Plan To Increase Spending On Salaries By 20%

Aug 31, 2022 (0)

O'Neill City Council Budget Items were discussed at the Ad-Hoc meeting on Monday, Aug. 29

At a special budget meeting on Monday, Aug. 29, of the O'Neill City Council, employee salary increases were discussed. City employees lobbied for hourly wage increases and a 5% cost of living adjustment. Council members Don Baker and Kayla Burdick voted no. The council approved a plan to increase spending on salaries by $350,215, which is 20% more than the current fiscal year.

On top of the salary increases for employees, the city is also responsible for paying a majority of health insurance benefits for employees electing to participate in the city health plan. The city will contribute $576,019  in employee health insurance premiums this upcoming fiscal year. 

According to Councilwoman Burdick, “some proposed increases are backed by data from cities comparable to O'Neill such as Albion, which looked at the federal cost of living for the past 12 months, which is at 9.1 percent. The Albion City Council recently approved a 9 percent cost of living adjustment for non-temporary city employees.

“However, other increases are not supported by the data. As a whole, if I cannot justify those increases to my constituents, then I cannot support them.” Burdick said that although the raises will not increase taxes this year, “they are not a one-time expense, and I'm concerned they will be problematic in the future when the tax levy will need to be increased to cover other projects.”

In the plan approved by the council, the average salary increase for employees is 21.44%. Burdick said, “I don't think anybody in the private sector is going to be seeing raises like these. It is great for the city employees, but I also have to look out for the taxpayers. I think the council needs to proceed with caution, especially when we're looking at the possibility of an economic recession around the corner.” Burdick did say she would support a more modest, targeted approach.

The O'Neill City Council will reconvene for their next regular meeting and further discussion of the budget on Monday, Sept. 12,  at 6:30 p.m. at the City Council Chambers.


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