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Nov 06

City Manager's Message 11-2-17: Holiday Bonus Day, Citizen Survey Bonus & Voluntary Retirement

Posted on November 6, 2017 at 12:08 PM by Don Mann

It is hard to believe it is November already and that the holiday season is right around the corner. Each year at this time, we announce the results of the biennial citizen satisfaction survey and the resulting time off bonus for the holidays. Our survey was done last year, so there are no new results to share. However, as a reminder, the survey results demonstrated exceedingly high marks from the public and that is something in which you all should take great pride. 
  • An overwhelming 93.6% report being satisfied with the courtesy of City employees.
  •  It is impressive that 92.3% are satisfied with the overall work performance of City employees.
Based on the time off bonus program, employees have earned the day off on the Friday after Thanksgiving and a half day off on Christmas Eve. However, I have asked - and Council has agreed - for the ability to provide the full day off for Christmas Eve because of the fantastic ratings. This year, Christmas Eve is on a Sunday and Christmas is on a Monday. Thus, the official time off for city employees will be as follows:
  • Thursday, November 23rd, Thanksgiving Holiday
  • Friday, November 24th, Bonus Administrative Day
  • Friday, December 22nd, Bonus Administrative Day
  • Monday, December 25th, Christmas Holiday
  • Monday, January 1st, New Year’s Day Holiday 
Also, you may recall that I included a citizen satisfaction achievement award in the FY 2018 budget. Council approved this in May of this year. Accordingly, I am also pleased to announce that this bonus will be paid to employees in a special pay on December 8th. The bonus works such that employees earn a % of the base amount ($250 for full-time employees and $125 for part-time/WAE employees who average at least 20 hours per week for the period of July 1, 2016-June 30, 2017). The parameters of this award also require that employees must have been employed on or before December 31, 2016 and in a pay status on December 1, 2017 to be eligible. Since the citizen satisfaction survey results showed that 92.3% of residents were satisfied or more than satisfied with the overall work performance of city employees (the question used for this bonus), we will apply this percentage to the base amount. Thus, the actual awards will be $230.75 for full time employees ($250*0.923=$230.75) and $115.38 ($125*0.923=$115.38) for eligible part-time/WAE employees. Council has generously agreed to gross up the amount so that eligible employees will receive the full achievement award after subtracting required taxes. 

I want to again thank you for your hard work, dedication and excellent customer service. These traits continue to impress our community, and have earned you this achievement award. I know we have been through many tough times together. This achievement award is one of the many ways your Council and City leadership team is thanking you for your commitment to our great City during those tough times. Please enjoy this extra money and your holiday season!

Last, but not least, I want to announce a voluntary retirement incentive program. In the coming days, the Finance Department will be sending out information regarding this voluntary retirement incentive program to eligible full-time employees who have met all VRS or HERS criteria for full retirement. This is a measure the city has periodically offered to help balance the budget. While it is still too early to know what our FY 2019 budget will look like, especially since key revenue estimates are not available until early next year, we decided to proactively offer this option since it had been seven years since the last offer. I want to stress that our real estate values have continued to show improvement and we continue to see new investment in the City, especially in the Coliseum Central, Downtown, Buckroe and Magruder areas of our community. These efforts should continue to improve our revenue growth in future years. In fact, earlier this week, we highlighted many advances that have been achieved this year at the State of the City address. (You can find a video of this event on our website if you are interested.) That said, it has been seven years since we offered such an incentive, and employees have continued to ask when the next offer might come. With the start of the the FY 2019 budget before us, we decided this was the right time. 

The last time we did an offer, we learned that departures of multitudes of experienced staffers at once can cause operational challenges for departments, particularly in public safety, so this year we have moved up timing to allow departments better ability to plan for those who may choose to take this voluntary incentive offer. Eligible employees will have until December 27, 2017 to make their decisions and submit the required paperwork to retire effective July 1, 2018 in order to receive the incentive. Having the list of those who do want to avail themselves of this opportunity will allow the city to plan operationally within departments and financially within the budget framework.

I want to stress that this program is completely voluntary and I want to emphasize that an employee's decision whether to participate or not is an individual choice based on personal circumstances often unknown to colleagues. For that reason, supervisors and co-workers must be respectful and supportive of an employee's ultimate decision. We will miss those who choose to participation in the retirement incentive program - both personally and professionally in the experience they bring to the job. While the incentive may slightly accelerate the pace of retirements next June, these transitions are normal and having the additional time to plan for them will help us better manage our staffing needs and service delivery.

As I close this lengthy email, I want to again thank you for all your continued work making our city a great place to live, work and play! 

With much appreciation,
Mary

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