Ordinance ups salary scale for promoted city workers

By Thomas Wilson
STAR STAFF
twilson@starhq.com

   City officials hope revised personnel regulations will bring bolstering salaries for promoted city employees by passing a ordinance Thursday night at the Elizabethton City Council.
   City Council voted 5-2 on second reading to pass an ordinance revising the city's personnel regulations to 2004 edition. The new personnel regulations gives city personnel who are promoted a pay raise not less than 10 percent of his or her current salary. The salary scale had been 10 percent until being reduced to not less than 5 percent in the mid-1990s.
   Elizabethton City Manager Charles Stahl said the reduced salary scale had resulted in city employees that held ranking positions actually making less money than the employees they supervised.
   "We realized over the years it compressed the pay scale by doing this," Stahl said.
   The new personnel regulations also eliminates the President's Day as a paid holiday for city employees as well as cutting out an employees' birthday as a paid holidays.
   Council members Nancy Alsup and Pat "Red" Bowers voted against the revised policy. Alsup, who wanted to defer the ordinance, questioned the reason of eliminating the paid holidays if employees were going to be paid for them anyway. City officials and council members are expected to discuss personnel policies at a council workshop next month. "We hope to solve it by the workshop in February," Alsup said on Friday.
   The promotion salary schedule could have the most immediate impact on the city's police and fire departments where personnel are promoted to supervisory ranks. City Police Chief Roger Deal said Friday the lower promotion schedule deterred police officers from actively pursuing promotion with increased responsibility given the lack of pay that came with a new position.
   "That has caused problems in that it is hard to take on supervisory jobs when they are taking on more responsibility for only five percent," said Deal. "The 10 percent will help out a lot."
   Deal said with growing responsibilities the officers, in S.W.A.T., K-9 and Traffic Accident Reconstruction, were taking on a greater degrees of specialized duties in addition to their regular patrol work for almost the same salary.
   "Like any job, you are expected to do more and more with less and less," he said. Elizabethton police officers rank among the lowest paid of police officers in cities of similar size in the state, according to a 2003 study conducted by the Municipal Technical Advisory Service in Nashville.