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Produced & Maintained by Idaho Mountain Express, Box 1013, Ketchum, ID 83340-1013 
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Copyright © 2003 Express Publishing Inc.
All Rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of Express Publishing Inc. is prohibited. 

For the week of October 8 - 14, 2003


Ketchum Council
recommits to
new salary plan

After a pause, panel approves
new structure, raises

"The city pays almost $20,000 a year for my health insurance (plan)" … those levels of healthcare expense are "ludicrous."

BAIRD GOULAY, Ketchum councilman

Express Staff Writer

The Ketchum City Council on Monday, Oct. 6, gave final approval to a new employee salary plan that includes pay raises for all but one of 74 regular city employees.

By a 3-1 margin, the panel voted to adopt a detailed nine-step pay plan for city employees that had been conditionally endorsed Sept. 2.

The council on Sept. 15 decided to review the new policy after Councilman Baird Gourlay expressed concerns about possible salary inequities that would favor high-ranked city officials.

However, Gourlay on Monday said his concerns about the plan had diminished. "I’ve kind of gone back on what I was concerned about," he said.

At issue is an August 2003 report commissioned by the city to assess whether Ketchum employees receive salaries and benefits similar to those paid by 19 similar resort cities, such as Aspen, Colo. and Jackson, Wyo. The report was compiled by The Local Government Institute, a research and consulting firm located near Seattle.

In the report, the LGI recommended that the city abolish its complex salary structure—which consists of four separate pay plans, each with double-digit job-value grades and potential salary step increases—in favor of a new, more uniform plan that applies to all city departments and employees.

Implementation of the nine-step plan includes issuing pay increases for all city employees except for one senior dispatcher. As part of the plan, several senior city officials, including some department heads, would receive salary increases of more than $200 per month.

The original estimated cost to the city to implement the plan in its first year was approximately $88,000.

However, Ron LeBlanc, Ketchum city administrator, said conditions placed on the policy to delay implementation of the plan for one month and to delay the issuance of a 1.5 percent employee cost-of-living-increase for six months will reduce the cost significantly.

Councilman Randy Hall, who in September voted against adoption of the plan, on Monday again voted against its immediate implementation. He reiterated his previously held position that he is uncomfortable granting substantial raises to some city department heads after they received pay increases earlier this year.

"We’re on the verge of over time costing our taxpayers millions of dollars," Hall said.

Hall ultimately concluded that he wanted to see more details about the plan. "I don’t see what the hurry is," he said. "I think we need to give this some thoughtful process."

The original LGI salary survey studied 10 "benchmark" positions in the city, but did not analyze the salaries of department heads. After Gourlay last month expressed concern about potential over-compensation of city department heads, the city commissioned LGI to study all department head salaries.

On Monday, Don Morrison, executive director of LGI, issued a report to the council stating that "most department head positions are recommended to remain at the recommended rate or be reduced one (job-value) grade" in the proposed plan.

For his part, Gourlay said he believes the city can afford to issue the raises if it develops a plan to better manage its healthcare costs. "The city pays almost $20,000 a year for my health insurance (plan)," he said, adding that those levels of expense are "ludicrous."



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