Council adds another 2% COLA raise for non-uniformed staff

·4 min read

Jul. 16—It's now 4% across-the-board.

McAlester city councilors have approved an additional 2% Cost of Living Adjustment pay increase for the city's non-uniformed employees. That's in addition to a previously-approved 2% COLA raise for the city's non-uniformed workers — which brings their total COLA raise to 4%.

That puts them on par with the 4% COLA increases approved for the new fiscal year for the uniformed police and fire personnel in the city.

It's also on par with the 4% raise city councilors previously approved for McAlester City Manager Pete Stasiak's contract.

The raises come in the form of a resolution amending the non-uniform pay scale to reflect an additional 2% increase for the 2021-2022 Fiscal Year, which totals $119,983 for the city's approximately 145 full-time non-uniformed employees, said City of McAlester Chief Financial Officer Sherri Swift.

Action by the council makes the increase effective July 1, which is when the new fiscal year began.

It covers virtually every employee in the city who is not considered uniformed police or fire personnel. It will go to workers ranging from heavy equipment operators to clerks at City Hall.

The fact that Stasiak got a 4% raise in his contract for the new fiscal year at a time the uniformed police and fire employees were slated for 2% COLA raises was noted at the time by the police and fire unions.

Fire and police union members obviously did not buy into the city administration's position that earned step raises for the police and fire departments would generally work out to 4% raises for them as well — especially since some of the step raises are given every other year.

City councilors later passed a resolution on June 22 amending the pay scale for fire and police personnel to reflect a 4% increase for the 2021-2022, along with the then-2% COLA raise for the non-uniformed personnel. All of those raises, as well as Stasiak's 4% raise, were reflected in the city's budget for the new 2021-2022 Fiscal Year.

On Tuesday night councilors passed their amended resolution giving the non-uniformed workers their additional 2% to bring them to the 4% level along with the other city employees.

How did it come about that city staff recommended the additional 2% at the first regular council meeting of the new fiscal year?

"Just in conversation," Swift said Thursday. She said Stasiak wanted to make sure the non-uniformed personnel also received a total 4% raise, along with the others.

"Pete felt it was necessary not to leave out the non-uniformed, to make sure the non-uniformed and nobody was left behind," said Swift.

Since the 4% raises for Stasiak and the city's uniformed personnel and the original 2% raise for non-uniformed personnel had been included in the budget for the 2021-2022 Fiscal Year, where will the $119,983 come from to pay for the additional 2% approved this week?

Swift said there is typically a fund balance beyond what is budgeted, and additional revenues are anticipated to come in from the city sales tax distribution through the Oklahoma Tax Commission.

Although the number of employees in city departments can fluctuate from day-to-day, Swift said the city has budgeted for a total of 145 non-uniformed employees, along with 43 unformed police and 40 uniformed fire personnel.

Raises for non-uniformed personnel will go to workers ranging from heavy equipment operators to clerks at City Hall. The total 4% COLA raise for non-uniformed personnel also includes some who work with the police and fire departments, but are not considered uniformed personnel.

That includes the city's police chief and deputy police chief, as well as the fire chief and assistant fire chief. They are are considered part of administration and therefore considered non-uniformed personnel. Now, they will be getting a 4% COLA raise along with the uniformed personnel in their departments.

The city's animal control officer and E-911 staff are also considered non-uniformed personnel, although they typically work closely with the police and fire departments.

All of the city councilors attending this week's council meeting at City Hall voted to approve the additional 2% pay raise for non-uniformed city personnel. They included Ward 1 Councilor Weldon Smith, along with Cully Stevens, Ward 2; Steve Cox, Ward 3; Billy Jack Boatright, Ward 5 and Zach Prichard, Ward 6.

Contact James Beaty at jbeaty@mcalesternews.com.

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