Gladstone adjusts city wage study

GLADSTONE — The Gladstone City Commission voted in favor of adjusting the scope and timeline of a proposed wage and compensation study during its regular meeting Monday.

Gladstone City Manager Darcy Long said this study could provide information on how Gladstone’s wage classifications compare to those used in other cities and markets. He noted the study could include the development of job descriptions for city positions which do not currently have them, as well.

Long also said the information generated by this study could be useful for the city of Gladstone in the near future.

“We do have a union wage re-opener next fiscal year,” he said.

In response to a question asking why data on other cities’ wages could not be found online, Long said this information would not always be directly comparable to Gladstone’s situation.

“When you look at some of the survey data, it varies,” he said.

Proposals for the study were submitted by Integrated Public Resources, LLC and Springsted. While Springsted’s proposal was more expensive (it was estimated to cost $23,800; in comparison, Integrated Public Resources’ proposal was estimated to cost $11,000), Long encouraged the commission to choose Springsted due to the greater scope of its proposed work. In addition to work on the wage and compensation study, Springsted’s proposal included a full structural analysis.

However, some members of the commission were not in favor of moving forward with the study in its original form. Commissioner Dave Phalen felt the study was too expensive to be justified as presented, and he did not want to make a budget amendment (as Long had suggested) to pay for it.

“$23,000 is a little excessive, in my opinion,” he said.

Commissioner Darin Hunter said that, while he believed the study would be useful, he was conflicted about its timing (as the city is currently facing multiple lawsuits).

“I tend to agree with Commissioner Phalen a little bit, but I also know that it does need to be done — I just don’t know if it needs to be done right now (or) if it’s something that could be looked at later on, but I also know you’re looking to try to get it together for our next budget cycle,” he said.

Some commissioners asked if the city could divide payments for the study between the current fiscal year and the upcoming fiscal year. Long said that — under the study’s original structure — doing this could have created issues with the city’s auditors.

The commission also discussed the possibility of breaking the study up into different phases.

“It sounds like (primarily) — first and foremost — the thing that’s on the table is a wage study,” Hunter said, noting work on the structural analysis could take place next year. In response, Long said he believed this would be possible and that it would not create issues with the city’s auditors.

A motion to have Springsted restructure its proposal and bring the new proposal to the commission was approved.

In other business, the commission:

– approved a resolution authorizing the publication of a notice of intent to issue capital improvement bonds and a declaration of intent to reimburse in the Daily Press. This does not obligate the city to take further action.

– okayed revised bylaws for the Gladstone Economic Development Corporation.

– introduced and set public hearings for proposed ordinances regarding utilities and solid waste. Public hearings for both proposed ordinances will take place at the commission’s next regular meeting, which is scheduled for Oct. 22.

– entered closed session to review a written attorney opinion regarding fallen trees on Blackwell Avenue and to hear updates from its lawyer on lawsuits the city is involved with. After the commission re-entered open session, a motion to take care of trees that have fallen on city property was approved.

– reappointed Tom Butch, Howard Haulotte, and Alger Strom to the Gladstone Planning Commission, Mary Bosk to the Gladstone Housing Commission, and Audra Steinhoff to the Gladstone Compensation Commission.

– gave City Clerk Kimberly Berry the authority to appoint election workers for the Nov. 6 election.

– authorized Long to sign a joint appeal to the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality regarding its new lead and copper rules.

– continued to discuss ways to improve Gladstone’s city hall phone system and related topics.