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City employee handbooks being revised

Sunnyside City Manager Mark Gervasi yesterday (Thursday) met with members of the special investigative committee tasked to determine if pay increases for city employees were given in accordance with regulations.

At the meeting the committee, consisting of Deputy Mayor Nick Paulakis, Councilman Don Vlieger and Councilwoman Theresa Hancock, was provided with the pay history of four public works supervisors, and a review of revisions to the city's employee handbook were also discussed.

Anna Bullock is the city's human resources assistant to the city manager. She told the committee the water division, street division, parks maintenance and sewer supervisors have all been awarded pay raises in accordance with collective bargaining agreements since 2005. The records she provided dated back to 2002.

At that time, the street and sewer supervisors were serving in their current capacities. They were paid $1,730 and $1,782 per month, respectively, in 2002. They are now paid $2,371 and $2,438, respectively.

The water division supervisor has moved his way up through the ranks and in 2009 was promoted to supervisor after the former supervisor retired. His salary is comparable to that of his counterparts. The parks maintenance supervisor is also paid comparably, according to Bullock.

"No anomalies were found," she said.

The committee was pleased with the news and Gervasi directed them to the employee handbook he and Deputy City Manager Byron Olson are working on with Bullock.

Gervasi said the city's current step payroll plan has been revised to a nine-step system in which there are pay increases of 2.5 percent.

"We want to implement a plan for compensating employees according to performance," said Gervasi, stating performance reviews are also included in the revisions to the handbook.

Paulakis and Vlieger both said they liked the idea.

Paulakis asked if there would be an explanation attached to the performance reviews for employees receiving the highest rating of five and the lowest rating of one.

Gervasi said that is one of the requirements.

Vlieger commented on the step pay increases, stating, "I think you kind of split the baby." He said he was pleased to see the increases will be at 2.5 percent versus a 5 percent increase in the former step plan.

Gervasi said, "There's been a lot of good work in the employee handbook."

He said he feels there is still some work to be done, but the direction is good.

He then changed direction, speaking to the review of pay increases for seven positions discussed last month. He said the city's insurance carrier and the city attorney recommended he speak to an attorney who deals in employment law.

"Amy Stepson was recommended and she comes highly regarded," he said.

Gervasi said he has spoken to Stepson and intends to provide the city council with a cost estimate for using her services, and he assured the committee the assistance will take only about 10 hours of her time.

He said a final report could be provided to the council as early as Jan. 24, but not later than Feb. 7.

The committee agreed to reconvene next Thursday, Jan. 13, at 4 p.m. for further discussions.

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