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Jul 02

Manager's Message: New fiscal year/bonus payment details

Posted on July 2, 2014 at 3:13 PM by Mary Bunting

It is hard to believe that a new fiscal year has arrived, and that half of calendar year 2014 is already over! 

As you all know, Council approved bonus payments for this year, the first of which will be made with the July 11th payroll (as a separate deposit). I am pleased to announce that the structure of the bonus has been changed to allow the majority of our employees to net $1,000 over the two payments. (The gross amount is actually $1,623.38.) Structuring the amount this way allows those who earn least to get the biggest percentage boost – more than 5% for those who earn $30,000 or less. The bonus amount averages to 3% across all workers.

The amounts initially approved differentiated along our merit formula to offer higher amounts to those who earned a 5 merit rating ($1,000 net over two payments) vs. $750 for a 4 and $500 for a 3 rating. Over the past several years of one-time performance payments, we had been treating those employees with a 4/5 merit rating the same.  Although I support our merit-based pay philosophy, with higher incentives for those with top ratings, this year did not seem to be the time to return to that differentiation. I sought and got Council approval to change the bonus structure for this year back to one that treats those who earned a 4 and those who earned a 5 the same. Therefore, when the first payments are made next week, the structure will be as follows:

  • Those earning a 4 or 5 will get $500 net of taxes in July and $500 net of taxes in December
  • Those earning a 3 will get $250 net of taxes in July and $250 net of taxes in December

Thus, the bulk of our workforce take home $1,000 in performance-based payments. Health insurance prices did go up slightly this year, but it won’t consume anyone's bonus. (The most expensive family coverage employee premium increased $154.32 for the entire year, with other plans increasing by smaller amounts.) 

We all wish there was more we could have done on actual salary increases, but as I explained before, the recurring revenues of the city did not increase enough to cover what would be a recurring salary increase. This bonus is being funded out of one-time revenues, just as many of the economic base initiatives you have been hearing about are being funded.

Nevertheless, I believe these bonuses - and the increase in the amount offered to those in our workforce who earned a 4 - will reflect our commitment to getting additional money into your household.

During this difficult economic challenge, when regular merit raises have not been possible, City Council and I have tried to do as much as possible for all employees. Those nearing the end of their public service will find the 6% shift in VRS funding will boost their retirement income, as did the 3%-5% raises most employees received in fiscal 2014.  To boost take-home pay, in addition to the 2014 raises, we were able to give bonuses in fiscal 2012, 2013 and this year (2015).

As noted previously, a compensation study that will examine our pay competitiveness as compared to other localities and the private sector is under way. We will have the results in time for both Council and I to consider before making budget recommendations next year. You will be hearing more about this study, and may even be asked to participate in direct interviews, in the coming weeks and months. I will send out periodic updates as I receive them so you can stay informed.

Finally, in my last email, I committed to getting around to work sites more often as well as offering informal "coffee chats" for employees to express their views and ask questions directly of me in more informal settings. The coffee chats will begin in two weeks. Here is a list of the planned coffee chats for the months of July and August. (Others will be announced for the fall.)

As a reminder, Human Resources will be generating a random list of employees to be invited to each chat. If you get an invitation, your supervisor and/or department head will ensure you are released from work to attend. In addition, if you do not receive an invitation but would nevertheless like to attend one of these sessions, please let my assistant, Donna Hodges, or me know and we will accommodate you at a time convenient to you. I am very much looking forward to these "face-to-face" chats and hope you will participate in one of the sessions, either this summer or fall.

I hope everyone has a safe and enjoyable July 4th weekend. As you may have heard a tropical storm may be in our future, so continue to watch for updates on weather conditions and be sure to be personally prepared for whatever may come our way.

Mary

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