Dec. 21—The hourly pay for crossing guards in Superior could jump to $15 in 2022.
The city's human resources committee approved a request to raise crossing guard pay at its Monday, Dec. 20, meeting. That item will move forward to the city council in January for approval.
Filling crossing guard positions has been a struggle over the last few years, according to Superior Police Chief Nicholas Alexander. Officials currently have two vacant crossing guard positions they have been unable to fill and another is expected to open up soon.
Crossing guards are currently paid $11.41 per hour their first year, and $11.66 per hour after a year. In a letter to the committee, Alexander listed the hourly wage of crossing guards in other Wisconsin cities with populations comparable to Superior's. They ranged from $14.50 per hour in Stevens Point to $18.85 per hour in Franklin.
"I'm not sure what type of impact it would have on, in terms of desirability or increasing applicants, but it was pretty clear that we were substantially lower than most other departments our size or community our size in compensation for crossing guards," Alexander said.
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The job involves working outside in inclement weather for a few hours at a time with a large gap in between.
"It's already probably not the most desirable position," Alexander said, but a wage increase would make it a little more competitive.
Committee members were quick to approve the pay increase, making it a flat $15 per hour for all crossing guards.
"Thanks for bringing this forward. That job is tough," said 2nd District Councilor Jenny Van Sickle.
The committee decided to table a decision on whether to allow Superior Fire Chief Scott Gordon to fill the assistant fire chief position and any subsequent vacancies that would be created. The position is not funded until July 1.
Fire department promotions are normally announced three months ahead of time, Gordon said, but he was named incoming chief 10 days before taking the position.
"I'm asking for as much time as possible with this person," Gordon said.
The fire chief said being able to announce the position early would allow the ripple effect of that hiring, which would ultimately lead to hiring another firefighter, to be addressed early.
Mayor Jim Paine said whoever is named to the position could feel the pressure to perform in the new assistant chief capacity immediately without being compensated. Fourth District Councilor Jack Sweeney said he'd like the city attorney to look at it, due to possible labor law concerns. Van Sickle said it would also be good to get feedback from the finance director.
The committee will re-examine the issue at its Jan. 24 meeting.