Full-time and part-time city employees will receive cost of living adjustments thanks to increased revenue collections and budget control measures the city set in place.
Under the plan approved unanimously following a closed session during city council’s Tuesday meeting, full-time employees will receive a $3,000 cost of living increase while part-time employees will receive a $1,000 adjustment.
The salary increases equate to around $502,000 and the remainder of the surplus will be put into the city’s undesignated fund balance.
In a memo on the matter to council, City Manager Joseph Scherer said, “Due to increased actual revenue collections and stringent budget control measures, we anticipate ending fiscal year 2020-21 with a budget surplus.”
He said depending on the actual amount of sales tax and other revenue sources received for June, “I anticipate a substantial surplus amount.”
Mayor Emery Doughtie said the amount of the surplus could hit the $1 million mark.
Scherer said his proposal was to allocate at least one-half to undesignated fund balance and the remainder for salary increases. “I feel this would address city council’s priorities of increasing our undesignated fund balance, ensure the police department is adequately staffed with qualified personnel and improve overall employee morale, recruitment and retention.”
The city manager said employees have not had any increases for a number of years and while council has been able to offer bonuses in recent years, “position salaries are key to employee recruiting and retention. While we do offer excellent employee benefits, our personnel, especially at the lower end of the salary wage scale, care more about how much money is going into their wallet at the end of week.”
Salary levels also impact retirement compensation, Scherer said. “We have had several employees leave for higher paying positions elsewhere. In the current employment environment it has been very hard to find people to come to work for what we offer, especially given some of the working conditions our positions require.”
A salary survey, he said, shows Roanoke Rapids employees are generally underpaid across the board. “While some of these other sample cities are more affluent than Roanoke Rapids, we need to fairly compensate our workforce to remain competitive in hiring and retaining quality people, especially in the public safety departments.”