Rigby City Council members continue to discuss the Rigby Police Department pay scale and any increases or bonuses that should or should not be added. During the council's Aug. 26 meeting, there was no final resolution as the council does not plan to implement anything until the fiscal year of 2022-2023.
Council member Aliza King started off by stating the city currently does not have a pay scale that has been passed; the one they have been using has never been passed through the council. King stated the increases currently sit at a 1% or a 1.5%. According to King, there are two options the council could go with: police department employees can either receive between a 1-1.5% increase, or a 0-3% increase, based on their performance.
King stated the pay scale is for wages, but the 3% was for budgetary purposes. A pay scale is based on the salary, but a budget is for the whole department.
King reiterated, as stated in previous meetings surrounding the pay scale, according to Idaho Code 5-1-2, compensation to be paid to members of the Police Department shall be fixed by the council.
Chief Sam Tower stated the sections and topics that they review employees on, at the bottom there is needs improvement or is excelling, which help to indicate where an employee should be placed on the scale.
Council member Richard Datwyler mentioned he thought of a rating scale in school; having a rubric with a student where they know the expectations and are graded on that scale according to the expectations they do or don't meet.
Datwyler asked, what if someone thinks they are exceeding, and then they sue the city because they're not being given what they think they deserve.
Tower then stated any evaluation comes with that; some employees may not agree with the final decision. Tower and Scott do talk about the employee reviews together, and will change them where they both agree they needs to be.
Council member Becky Harrison then asked if they ever have officers that fight the level that the department gives them, and Tower said he hasn't had any. Harrison stated then it must not be to their face.
Tower stated the interviews and proposals then go to the mayor for final approval.
"I personally don’t like the second option because there are times where a 0% is necessary," said Harrison.
Tower stated just because it’s not on there doesn’t mean there isn’t a 0% option, he just ran out of room to put it on the spreadsheet.
"I think both scales are workable, but the 1-3% is a little more clear cut," said Tower. "Having a scale approved by the council is great because it helps us adhere more strictly to it, but I don't want to be singled out if there's other departments that need this ability as well. I think it is something we should do with all city employees and their departments. I think they should all fit within a similar rubric."
According to Harrison, each year is going to be different. If the department has four officers that have done outstanding during the year, but another officer has seen growth as well, the department has already committed that much of their budget to these incentive raises for the four officers and not the other one. Harrison stated it is a complicated issue.
Harrison asked if they would leave the entry level rates at where they are, which is approximately 7% in the first year, and Tower said yes.
Harrison asked if the 3% increase that was passed earlier in the month was included, and Tower stated that is the 3% raise. It was in his budget proposal, so he adjusted the pay scales accordingly.
"And if that were to continue, we will eventually catch up to the average of what towns our size in Idaho pay," said Scott. "In order to catch up to the average, you would need an 8% increase, which we know the city can't do, so we are trying to climb that ladder."
City Clerk Dave Swager asked Tower, if they bumped an officer up from $19.06 to $19.36 because he did outstanding, but the next year he fell on his face, but stays at $19.36, it should be based on that years performance, not on-going. Tower stated if they give someone a raise, he doesn't know how legal it is to take it away. Swager stated not taking it away, but versus giving the officer a merit based bonus for a year. Tower stated that is why they do performance reviews, to make sure the officer is deserving of that increase.
"The key to the performance evaluations is it allows us to track their success as well as the things they need to work on, over their career," said Tower. "That’s the idea. If they fall flat, they get their counseling, and they have a year to focus. It’s an ongoing process, not a one and done."
According to Mayor Jason Richardson, when the city did this before, they had to back out of it because it’s always more aggressive than they can afford.
Scott mentioned the department could set aside X amount of dollars for a bonus structure.
"I have confidence in our department heads," said Harrison. "I like this scale, I just want to make sure we understand the power we give to our department heads. When they do their assessments, they know what they will have for the fiscal year. But it is something we are setting ourselves up for problems with in the future."
Richardson mirrored Harrison's concerns, stating, if an officer does outstanding, and other officers mimic what they did, they can’t just look at the budget and say they all did outstanding. The department can’t say that they can’t afford that anymore, and so they run into legal problems. If every officer gets 3%, the department has broken the budget.
Scott stated their standard is they do the best that they can because they are here and want to do it. They get a pay raise because they want to serve the city.
"I think if we write into the policy, in order to protect us. If it’s not possible, it will not be given," said Harrison. "If they have been given an increase, then it would not be able to be given in that year. As far as bonuses, there’s nothing in our policy that says they can’t give bonuses, we are just saying the mayor won’t automatically say yes."
Harrison stated she believes the proposal needed some finetuning and there needed to be subscript as to what the expectations are for employees and what the guidelines are surrounding the budget.
The council had it tabled, but stated they are not in a hurry to finalize anything because nothing will go into effect until the 2022-2023 fiscal year.