Council seeks to elminate merit pay
In some cases, projects ended, pay stayed for some Farmington employees
Farmington City Council members want to eliminate a merit-pay program instituted at least a decade ago by Human Resources Director Brenda Wendlandt.
The program, although frozen three years ago, remains in place for about half the city employees, including some directors, who are non-union, according to City Administrator David McKnight.
The program gives raises to some workers who took on projects and earned step increases, McKnight said during the council’s April 30 retreat.
Council members expressed concern that the merit pay has continued even though some of the projects may be completed or no longer operational.
Details about the projects and pay levels of employees were provided to council members, but not made public because of data practices laws.
The city’s three highest-paid employees are McKnight, who earns $113,000, Wendlandt, whose salary is $106,661, and Police Chief Brian Lindquist, who earns $102,743 annually.
According to city budget documents, about 63 percent of the city’s general fund is dedicated to employee salaries and benefits.
Most of the city’s workers are union employees, and council members expect resistance from the unions to eliminating the merit-pay benefit.
McKnight said the issue will be discussed during union negotiations, and he expects the city will need to conduct a wage study to determine fair and equitable salaries for employees.
Council Member Christy Jo Fogarty said the program was likely instituted because public sector jobs traditionally have not paid as well as private industry.
However, the economic downturn has reduced private sector pay and benefits, yet the public sector has not followed suit, she said.
“Now,” she said, “you can get a government job, you’re … making more than people working in the private sectors quite often, and definitely more benefits, and unions won’t negotiate to where they economy’s at.”