• Last modified 832 days ago (March 10, 2022)


Raise equals 5 mills, boosts average wage above $20

Staff writer

A 5% pay raise approved Monday night for Marion city workers will cost the city between $48,539 and $56,596.30 each year — the equivalent of up to 5.5 mills in property taxes.

The lower amount comes from city administrator Roger Holter. The higher amount comes from a Record analysis of individual pay and benefits amounts obtained from the city.

The Record’s analysis reveals that, if granted across the board, individual raises would range from $1,348.90 a year for the lowest paid clerk to $3,837.60 a year for the highest-paid administrator.

Any 5% raise will end up costing more than 5% because it also will increase the city’s required contributions to Social Security, Medicare, Kansas Public Employees Retirement System, and Kansas Fire and Police retirement.

Holter did not explain the $8,057.30 difference between his figure and the Record’s, but this factor could be accountable for the difference.

Also not included in the Record’s analysis — or, presumably, Holter’s — are overtime pay or the filling of three currently vacant positions, both of which could significantly increase the cost of the raise.

Even before the 5% raise and excluding any overtime, City of Marion workers were paid an average of $20.29 an hour plus an average of $4.36 an hour in benefits above and beyond what many workers in the private sector receive.

Without offering specifics, Holter disputes the hourly wage amount, which was calculated from individual pay amounts provided by the city for each current, full-time city employee. Those amounts became public record after being openly discussed at Monday night’s council meeting.

Holter contends, without explanation, that the current average is actually $19.88 an hour.

He did not comment on benefits, but according to the Record’s analysis, the total benefits include an average of $3.07 an hour for health insurance coverage, an average of $1.17 an hour for pension contributions above what would be paid by an employer if an employee were covered only by Social Security, and an average of $0.13 an hour in utility discounts.

With an across-the-board 5% raise, average base pay excluding benefits would increase a little more than $1.01 an hour to $21.30 according to the Record’s analysis and to $20.88 according to Holter’s.

The cost of extra pension contributions will increase to $1.23 an hour, according to the Record’s analysis.

Utility discounts, available only to employees who reside in the city, are paid to 60% of the city’s workforce. Limiting the average to only those claiming the discount, the hourly value of this benefit rises to $0.20. All figures are rounded to the nearest whole cent.

On an annual basis, a city worker making full use of utility discounts and receiving a 5% raise would have average annual compensation equivalent to what many private sector employees would make if paid $73,225 a year.

This ranges from a low of $45,644 for the lowest paid clerk, with an annual base pay of $28,327, to a high of $117,694 for the highest paid administrator, with an annual base salary of $80,590.

Without explanation, Holter contends the new compensation totals would range from $39,191 for the lowest-paid city clerk to $100,104 for the highest-paid administrator. It is unclear what benefits he might or might not have included in his figures.

The highest-paid non-supervisor will receive $109,512 on base pay of $69,888, according to the Record’s analysis.

Without explanation, Holter contends that this amount — which he identified as being paid to a journeyman in the electric department — would be $89,721 instead of $109,512.

All figures are for a 40-hour workweek, 52 weeks a year.

Vacations and holidays, which tend to be more liberally awarded to city employees than to employees in many private sector businesses, would be an extra benefit not included in the overall compensation totals.

Asked to respond to the Record’s analysis, Holter stated that taxes would not increase this year because mill rates could not be increased after a budget has been published.

He also stated that the raise would not be across the board but rather would be allocated according to what he described as a “pay for performance” plan adopted by the city.

He cited Kansas Department of Labor data that he contends indicate that the average hourly pay, presumably excluding benefits, for all workers in the state is $24.74 an hour — $21.97 an hour in the government sector and $25.35 an hour in the private sector.

These numbers would, of course, include workers in metropolitan as well as rural areas, and the public sector is not limited to municipal employees.

City council members Ruth Herbel and Jerry Kline voted against the 5% raise Monday night, preferring a raise half that size.

Council members Zach Collett and Chris Costello voted with mayor David Mayfield to approve the raise, reportedly were one of three options — the third being even larger — detailed by Holter.

Last modified March 10, 2022