STEVENS POINT, Wis. (WSAU) -- Stevens Point’s pay study and plan implementation was again stopped cold Monday night. The long embattled effort to put city employees on similar pay grades and wages to similar communities has another road block.
A special meeting of the Stevens Point Common Council was to discuss having the employee appeals heard directly by the common council instead of both the council and the Personnel Committee. Several aldermen felt they didn’t have time over the holiday to review the 200-plus pages of appeal documents they received since July 1st. The council voted to delay action on the multiple employee appeals and establishment of salaries.
Another potential hot button is the city's claim that no city employee would get a pay cut. One alderman that wished to remain anonymous says the pay plan does have some wage cuts.
The pay plan issues highlight the friction between the council members and the administration. Council members wanted information they couldn’t get from Mayor Halverson, and Halverson struggled with the council seeking comparison data altered to a level he felt was no longer an accurate representation of their positions and wages.
The Mayor believes the original pay plan and comparable city statistics were better before the council made changes. Halverson says, “We had a situation where if you chose to make the right decisions and used the appropriate averages and snapshots throughout the state, you could have had one of the best pay plans possible, but in my opinion, this particular council has let so many other forces influence how this process has unfolded, you will never have a pay plan that any of you have confidence in exactly because of that.”
Halverson was asked by alderman Randy Stroik if he was proud of the results of this pay study and plan. “Am I proud of the way this process has unfolded? No. I think it’s an absolute embarrassment. Do I think we have the most appropriate document in place now based on the review of the grades as amended? Definitely. Do I think you will ever have confidence in this because of the way in which it was handled? No, not at all. Not at all.”Halverson said he had a product he could work with in January, but, "This one is completely off the hook. So, how are they going to fix it? I don’t know. It’s going to be up to them to figure out how they’re going to fix it. We can only make suggestions.”
Alderman Mike Wiza agrees that the city’s pay plan has become a mess, but like some other council members, Wiza believes the problems are on the administration’s end because they don’t get the information they need. “Well, the fact that we don’t get answers to our questions. The fact that we had an alderperson ask for a hard copy of this 230-some page document, and he was told no. The fact that we’re not getting the information we need from the administration certainly doesn’t build a sense of trust.”
Wiza agrees with the Mayor that it might be best to scrap the entire plan and start over, but he believes the mess began with Halverson. “Well, I think it has become a mess, and I think that mess started in the administration’s office when we were denied answers to the questions that we had. Whether or not there was anything inaccurate or inappropriate is irrelevant. It gives the impression when we ask for simple information, when we’re denied that information, that builds that sense of distrust.
If the city scraps the pay plan, they will have wasted over a year and $30,000. Wiza says $30,000 seems like a lot of money, but the city has millions spent in the downtown they will not get back. He believes starting over might be necessary just to get it right. “$30,000 kind of seems like a drop in the bucket to do something right, and that people can be proud of.”
Wiza has not made up his mind, but is considering a motion to scrap the entire pay plan and start over when it comes up again in two weeks.