ARMA — Two Arma city employees brought up the city’s most recent salary adjustment during the Arma City Council’s regular meeting Monday.
Arma Police Officer Tommy Leftwich and City Utility Worker Justin Neil both spoke about what they see as problems in the way the city increases salaries and compensates employees. The council had hoped to give a 3 percent raise across the board to all employees in next year’s budget, but that number was dialed back by the council to 1.5 percent. Following discussions with Leftwich and Neil, the council voted to increase the across the board raise to the full 3 percent.
Leftwich told the council he felt there was no standard criteria used to increase salaries, and that he was not being compensated properly for his additional work. While he is a full-time police officer, Leftwich also serves as the school resource officer for USD 246, manages the armory for the Arma Police Department and is a certified field training officer.
“I’ve worked here for four years and seen no raise, except a dime,” Leftwich said. “I make just 20 cents more than someone who has worked here less than a year.”
Leftwich said police need to be assessed on a separate basis from city utility workers, as they have very different jobs. He also noted that police officers do not receive a clothing allowance from the city as other workers do. City employees receive a $300 clothing allowance for work clothing.
The city does provide officers with uniforms, but Leftwich said officers must purchase expensive equipment out of pocket, and city utility workers are not required to do so. APD officers are required to purchase their own firearm, as well as leather utility belt. Leftwich said these items cost him over $1,000, and he feels he is not being compensated for the purchases the same as other city employees. Leftwich requested officers also be given a $300 clothing allowance.
Neil raised similar concerns, saying he felt he was not being properly compensated for his work. He currently has two water certifications, and said he frequently comes in on his days off to help.
“I’m not going to keep getting these certifications and striving to be a better employee if I’m not going to be paid for it,” Neil said.
Under the 1.5 percent increase, Neil said he would only make one dollar more than the city grasscutter — who received a one dollar increase.
The council voted for to increase the salary adjustment another 1.5 percent across the board, to give a 3 percent increase to employees. The council voted 3 to 2 with Dick Cleland and Lissa Rhodes voting no.
Rhodes said she voted no because she believes the city needs to create job classifications and a set salary schedule.
The council tabled the issue of the clothing allowance for police and compensation for Neil until its next meeting.
— Chance Hoener is a staff writer for the Morning Sun. He can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @ReporterChance.