Council Helps Employees Keep Up With Cost Of Retirement

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Some Town of Payson employees are going to receive a slight increase in their paychecks to offset the increase in the Arizona Retirement Service funds that they are paying.

The Payson Town Council approved a 1.7 percent increase for all employees who did not get a raise last year due to already being above the market average.

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The Payson Town Council approved a slight salary increase to help some employees with the rising cost of participation in the retirement program.

The goal of the 1.7 percent increase was to ensure that paychecks would stay the same for those employees who did not get a raise.

Council Member Mike Vogel said the pay study the town did put a few employees in the wrong classification, which cost them a raise.

He mentioned secretaries being lumped together with administrative assistants. Administrative assistants, being above the market, did not get a raise this year.

The 1.7 percent increase will offset the cost of the retirement programs employees are paying.

And most council members agreed that employees' paychecks should not decrease.

Mayor Bob Edwards asked Human Resources Director Robert Smith if secretaries were being punished for being placed in the wrong group.

Smith said they are being paid for the group they are in.

Vice Mayor Tim Fruth said city was playing semantics, though Smith said employees were being paid according to the study.

Fruth said there are a lot of town employees who are not satisfied with the study, and added he would never approve another one.

Edwards agreed with Fruth.

"We are kicking a football all over the place without doing our job," he said.

Council Member Andy Romance said the council and city tried their best to be fair to everyone.

He said what the town should be talking about are merit increases, and added he is not sympathetic to those saying they are making less due to paying more into their retirement.

Romance said town employees are going to meet people in Payson who have no such luxury.

Council Member Su Connell said the town needs to reward and maintain its employees.

Vogel wanted to increase salaries for those in a wrong classification by another 2.3 percent, but his motion died after receiving no second.

The 1.7 percent increase passed unanimously.

The council also gave the go ahead on three future subdivisions.

A preliminary plat was approved for the East Gateway subdivision at 1200 E. Frontier St. which would have six lots.

The final plat was approved for the Cottage Creek subdivision, which is behind the Walgreens on Longhorn Road.

The council also, by a 5-2 vote, approved the preliminary plat for Ponderosa Heights, which would be on Highway 87 across from Home Depot.

Council Member Ed Blair wanted to table this subdivision because it would consist of 121 homes and need a lot of water.

He said he had received 40 e-mails and letters imploring the council to not act immediately because of several issues. Of the letters he read out loud, the water situation the town is facing with Star Valley seemed to be the major theme.

"This is not about 10 or 11 homes, this is about 121," he said.

Blair and Edwards wanted to table this until the council's Aug. 10 meeting, pointing to the fact that the town council was going to discuss the water issue Aug. 3.

Connell, who had previously brought up the moratorium until the water situation could be rectified, said everything with the three subdivisions had been done properly and there was no reason to delay the vote.

With Edwards and Blair in dissent, the council passed the Ponderosa Heights preliminary plat 5-2.

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