NEW PORT RICHEY — Less than two years removed from employee layoffs amid an economic crisis, many city workers will soon be seeing raises.
The pay bumps will be the result of a pay structure implemented by the city council Tuesday in an effort to be more competitive in attracting and keeping employees. The council approved spending more than $208,000 beginning April 1 to create a job classification tier structure that will establish minimum salary rates for all positions in the city. It means raises for 58 percent of the city's workforce now making less money than the new rates. The new pay plan does not affect pay rates for union police and fire employees.
In addition, the new pay plan raises the minimum pay for a city employee to $10.10 an hour, interim City Manager Susan Dillinger told the council. Of the city's 220 employees, 29 make less than $10 an hour.
Dillinger told the council there have been several studies completed since the early 1990s looking at competitive pay rates for employees but none have been implemented, leaving the city lagging behind area pay rates resulting in high employee turnover.
Council member Chopper Davis, who completes his first year on council next month, said he's "embarrassed" that the city waited so long to pay its employees competitive salaries.
"In fact, I would give them more money if I could. I can't wait. It needs to go," Davis said of the plan.
The move follows news that the city's reserves and general fund are flush after years of cutbacks, debt re-financing, and stormwater/streetlight assessment increases that have dramatically improved the economic outlook.
In other news:
• The council gave spending approval to staff to revamp a computer software system that is decades old.
Council members voted unanimously to approve spending more than $846,000 over three years to roll out new software for employees to manage financial data, utilities, development services and overall customer service management.
Currently, city operations are conducted using an IBM programming system from the 1980s. The new software will be implemented by Texas-based Tyler Technologies, a company that also services the Pasco County School District and recently won a bid to roll out the same system for Pasco County, according to the city's IT director Bryan Weed.
• After several failed attempts at finding a permanent city manager, the council has come up with a short list of candidates who are slated for interviews in two weeks.
The board selected three candidates with management experience to interview, including a high-ranking official with Pasco County. The city is offering $115,000 a year for the position. The council scheduled the following candidates for interviews on April 4:
- Elizabeth Goodwin Harris, community services director for Pasco County.
- Debbie Manns, assistant city manager of Clayton, Ohio.
- James McCroskey, city manager of Holly Hill, Fla.