Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

November 15, 2013

Proposal for longevity pay increase for city workers rejected

Kenneth Hart
CNHI News Service

ASHLAND — The Ashland Board of City Commissioners on Thursday rejected a proposal by the outgoing city manager to boost the longevity bonuses paid to city employees who have worked for the city for longer than five years.

Currently, those workers are paid an annual bonus equivalent to $1 for every month of service they’re logged with the city. Under the proposal by City Manager Steve Corbitt, the bonuses would have been increased to $2.50 per month of service.

The raise would have cost the city about $40,000 a year, Finance Director Tony Grubb said.

Corbitt — who’s retiring at the end of the year and whose successor, Benjamin Bitter of Casa Grande, Ariz., was hired last week by the commission — said he proposed the increase because city workers haven’t had a salary increase in 18 months and have seen their health insurance premiums double during that period.

“It’s always been my position that the first thing you take care of is the citizens of Ashland, and the second thing you take care of is the city employees,” he said.

Corbitt said he’d been told by Grubb that the city had the money to cover the raises. One source the money could come from, Corbitt said, is an anticipated $100,000 increase in water fees from Air Products the city is expected to realize from replacing an old, worn-out meter.

But commissioners said they had serious misgivings about increasing the longevity bonuses so soon after passing an austere budget that included $5.2 million in cuts across the board and raised the city’s occupational tax from 1.5 percent to 2 percent. The bonuses were reduced as part of the current budget, which was adopted in June.

Commissioner Cheryl Spriggs said she was no fan of the longevity bonuses to begin with, calling them “ridiculous,” and said the fact they were reduced was one of the reasons she voted in favor of the current budget.

Spriggs also said she thought if the city was going to give its employees an additional $40,000 a year, it should lower the occupational tax as well. She asked Corbitt if that was going to happen.

“That’s not my decision,” he replied.

Commissioners ultimately voted unanimously to an amended resolution that keeps the longevity bonuses at $1 a month.

KENNETH HART can be reached at khart@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2654.