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Some Janesville city workers could get bonuses under plan

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MARCIA A. NELESEN
November 26, 2011
— Janesville City Manager Eric Levitt proposes the city give payments to some employees to partly make up for money they now contribute to their pensions.

Levitt on Monday will ask the council to reward administrative employees with lump sum payments that would not increase their base salaries.


The cost to the 2011 budget would be $33,257.


The pay would be capped at 1.5 percent of annual salary for sworn administrative public safety employees, such as the police chief, and 2.25 percent for nonsworn administrative employees.


Nonunion employees began contributing 5.8 percent of their annual salaries toward their pensions in August in accordance with Gov. Scott Walker’s budget-repair provisions.


Union employees are still governed under two-year contracts that expire in 2012 and are not yet affected by Walker’s plan. The city rushed to approve the contracts after Walker first proposed the legislation that strips nearly all collective bargaining power from public employees and requires them to contribute to their pensions.


Some city union employees will begin making those payments when contracts expire.


State law does not require police officers and firefighters to pay the 5.8 percent.


The pension contribution continues in 2012 for nonunion staff, who won’t receive any salary or merit increases, Levitt said.


The lump sum payment is needed because the gap in salaries between managers and employees is compressing, Levitt said.


Union employees, meanwhile, will receive a 1.5 to 1.75 increase in 2012, according to the last year of their contract.


The city has the money this year because it did not plan merit increases in 2011 for administrative workers but anticipated that the city would pay their full pension payments. The change in state law resulted in $192,500 of unanticipated savings in 2011, Levitt said.


Levitt said he does not recommend increasing base salaries.


“Employee pension contributions in part have helped the city to maintain certain service levels,” Levitt said in a memo.


“The one-time lump sum merit is recommended due to the high quality work that many employees have provided to the city over the last year.”


The city has been conservative in managing its personnel costs over the last four years by holding positions vacant and eliminating them, Levitt said.


“We are constantly asking our employees to do more with fewer resources,” he said.


General fund money spent on wages and benefits overall decreased 1 percent from 2009 to 2012, from $28.74 million to $28.47 million, Levitt said.


In comparison, total general fund personnel costs increased 9.9 percent from 2005 to 2008, Levitt said.


“It is important to continue to reward employees for their quality work in some way, and the one-time lump sum merit without an impact to the 2012 budget year would be the best mechanism to do this,” Levitt said.



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