City officials address educational incentive ordinance
Belfast — City officials are considering eliminating an employee incentive that gives a raise to non union workers who have a two-year degree in a field related to their job or a four-year degree in an unrelated field.
The incentive went into effect in 2001 and gives a 2 percent increase that is added to the wage or salary of any city employee. The incentive does not apply to positions where the job description requires an associate or bachelor's degree.
Because the incentive is an automatic increase every year and is not based on employee performance, City Manager Joseph Slocum asked councilors to consider deleting it from the city ordinances. Instead, Slocum said, he would rather give increases to employees based on their experience or education upon being hired, or on achieving “some level of accomplishment during employment.”
Councilor Nancy Hamilton pointed out that the wording of the ordinance would mean someone with a Master's degree in fine arts could be employed by Public Works to drive a truck and they would still get the 2 percent increase each year.
“That's ridiculous,” she said.
She continued by suggesting the council should be given time to consider the issue and that she didn't feel it was appropriate to pay for education that doesn't benefit the city.
Questions were also raised about how the 2 percent increase was factored into an employee's salary. Slocum said that based on his understanding, the increase would compound each year. However, he said he would ask the City Treasurer to come to the next council meeting to verify that information.
Councilor Eric Sanders agreed that the city officials needed to verify how the ordinance was being implemented for eligible city employees.
“I don't think a blind 2 percent compounded raise every year because you have a college degree necessarily makes a lot of sense,” Sanders said.
Councilors accepted the first reading of the proposal to delete the educational incentive language from city ordinances 4-1 with Councilor Roger Lee dissenting.
In other business
Councilors confirmed Brian Lunt as a sergeant with the Belfast Police Department.
A request from the Maine Farmland Trust to close down certain streets in the downtown area for the annual “Maine Fare” event was approved.
Councilors approved a request from Economic Development Director Thomas Kittredge to grant a 110 day option to Gary Hagen on Lot No. 5 in the Belfast Airport Business Park. Hagen is looking to build a 3,400 square foot office building which he would lease to the United States Department of Agriculture. Construction of the building is estimated to cost about $350,000.
Republican Journal reporter Ben Holbrook can be reached at 338-3333 or at email@example.com.
Ben Holbrook is a reporter for The Republican Journal covering general news.
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