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Vice Mayor Kline lone vote against department head salary adjustments
Mike Kline comp.jpg
Ceres Vice Mayor Mike Kline was the lone vote last week against new employment agreements with five department heads.

Vice Mayor Mike Kline cast the only “no” vote for new employment agreements for five city department heads last week.

The council voted 4-1 to approve the new contracts with Community Development Director Tom Westbrook, Finance Director Suzanne Dean, Human Resources Director Betina McCoy, Police Chief Brent Smith and Public Works Director Jeremy Damas. The agreements were included in the consent agenda, which is normally passed without council discussion. Kline had the item pulled and announcement he would vote against them.

“I’m not comfortable with some of the language in what has been negotiated into the contract,” said Kline. “We made a salary range adjustment which I do support but I’m still not comfortable with some of the equity adjustments that are in the contract so I will be voting no.”

Equity adjustments are increases in salary for a city to remain competitive with what neighboring cities are paying. Cities will often keep salaries close to what other cities pay so to keep staff from going elsewhere for better pay.

The main provisions of the amendments include:

• Cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) to base wage of 1.5 percent for the current year and the next two fiscal years consistent with other groups.

• Equity adjustments to classifications, as determined by compensation study update.

• “Classic” member contribution to cover the full employee-share of retirement; in exchange, these employees receive a cost-neutral 6 percent base wage increase, effective in the first year.

The amendments will cost the city $60,917.

The city began negotiations earlier this year with its labor bargaining groups and has ratified agreements with the Mid-Managers Group, First Line Supervisors/Confidential Group, and Miscellaneous Bargaining Unit. The city is hoping to settle with the other three bargaining units and is nearing completion of the negotiations process.

Department heads are not represented by any unions and negotiations are made directly with each individual.

The salaries of Westbrook, Damas, Dean, and McCoy start out at $11,583 per month, or $138,996 annually. He receives a 1.5 percent salary hike on July 1, 2019 and July 1, 2020.

Police Chief Brent Smith makes $12,170 per month, or $146,040 per year, with 1.5 percent raises on July 1, 2019 and July 1, 2020. He also received 15 leave days per year.