Lakeville City Council looks to city health insurance

Wage, benefits study authorized

Lakeville City Council members recently authorized a comprehensive wage study for council and city employees that includes investigation into whether elected officials should be eligible for city employee benefits.

The study will compare all salaries and positions, including seasonal and internships, to those of other municipalities.

A review of salary and health insurance options available to the Lakeville mayor and City Council will also be included.

Preliminary information reviewed by the City Council at its June 26 work session found some Twin Cities municipalities provide health insurance coverage to its elected officials, including Apple Valley, Burnsville and Eagan.

Lakeville City Council members are paid $8,664 and $25 per Housing and Redevelopment Authority meeting. The mayor’s salary is $9,996, the lowest amount of metro area cities with similar populations, according to information assembled by city staff.

Council Member Colleen LaBeau noted that Lakeville City Council members also have the opportunity to use an expense account and noted the city should review whether other cities provide that benefit when comparing elected officials’ salaries.

Mayor Doug Anderson said just as they have heard comments about total compensation for employees, the council needs to look at what total compensation is for them as a City Council.

“It’s not just what the salary is,” Anderson said. “It includes other things.”
He said his eyes have been opened by looking at how other cities do things.

“That’s how the health care question got generated,” Anderson said. “There’s other cities that do that.”
Lakeville has budgeted $30,000 for a consultant to help the city with the comprehensive review of job descriptions, pay structures and benefits.

The consultant is being sought to guide city officials in helping to determine the city’s compensation philosophy, update job descriptions to meet state and federal requirements and establish a job evaluation system before completing a market study and developing a pay plan.

City Administrator Justin Miller said the study will likely take six months to complete and the city can include a placeholder in its 2019 budget or halfway through 2018 to prepare for potential increases.

Anderson said each of the four years he has been on City Council, every time they have reviewed the budget, staff members have brought forward the question of compensation for elected officials.

Council members Luke Hellier and Bart Davis are on the Personnel Committee and said the topic has been discussed there several times.

Hellier said Lakeville citizens have high expectations of city employees, and the study will help ensure the city is attracting the best employees, help city employees understand compensation is salary and benefits, and allow the city to share the whole picture of what potential employees of Lakeville will receive if hired.

“We’re only getting bigger,” Hellier said. “And, we’re only going to have more needs when it comes to fulfilling the needs of the people in the town. So, I think this is a good start.”

Hellier said the staff and City Council should also work to devise the city’s mission statement about compensation that explains their philosophy of it.

Davis said the city provides services that add value and called it “important and imperative” to maintain that same quality, and that the city remain competitive in attracting employees.

The State of Minnesota Local Government Pay Equity Act requires cities to maintain a classification and compensation plan to maintain pay equity compliance, and Lakeville reported being in compliance in 2016.