Star Valley Votes 3 Percent Pay Raise For Its Employees

Town manager gets 16 percent bump for handling tickets, employees get cost of living

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The Star Valley council Tuesday approved a 3 percent employee cost of living raise and a 16 percent boost for the town manager.

Mayor Chuck Heron said with satisfaction the town's strong financial position, despite the economic downturn that has mangled neighboring Payson's budget, is the reason for the pay raises.

Star Valley recently adopted a $4.3 million 2008-09 budget, which more than doubled from the current year, buoyed in part by a flood of revenue from the photo ticketing stations on the highway on each end of town.

By contrast, Payson is struggling to deal with a $3 million cut in the coming year's $36-million budget, including a pay freeze.

Heron said the town's employees need the 3 percent raise to keep up with inflation. "In Payson, the first thing they removed was the COLA (cost of living adjustment)," he said.

Town Manager Vito Tedeschi presented statistics on the consumer price index showing that overall prices have risen 4 percent nationally since April 2007.

Tedeschi noted that the 3 percent employee raise will cost the town a total of $8,875, including benefits.

Tedeschi fared better than the average employee, with a roughly $11,000 raise to about $81,000 annually.

The $900 per month increase is intended to cover the cost of administering the town's new photo enforcement system, which Tedeschi estimates will bring in revenues of about $1 million per year -- the bulk of which will go to pay the state, court costs, staffing costs and the bill for process servers to deliver the court summons for people who don't pay.

Tedeschi's contract also provides for a $100,000 life insurance policy, 18 paid sick days and three weeks of paid vacation annually. In neighboring Payson, Town Manager Debra Galbraith makes about $125,000 to administer a town of 16,000 -- about eight times the size of Star Valley.

In other action during the Tuesday meeting the town council:

  • Agreed to accept responsibility for the privately owned Hillside Drive, a dirt road in a 54-foot-wide easement that homeowners hope the town will maintain and eventually pave.
  • Agreed to participate in a Gila County program that puts prisoners to work doing community service projects. Probation administer Linda Isban appealed to the council to participate in the program, which would give the town the right to "pick and choose" among people convicted of various offenses ordered by the court to perform some kind of community service -- either for a public agency or for low-income homeowners.

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