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More information on the 2011 City Budget

By Councilman Bill Summers

The council met again this evening to go over more of the mayor’s proposed 2011 budget.  It was another long evening. Here is some more information on items being proposed.

Employee Pay Raises

A total of $1,324,069 has been set aside for use in employee pay adjustments based on the results of an upcoming pay and compensation study. There has been a rumor that all employees will be getting a 4% raise. That is incorrect.  The amount of 4% was used to calculate a sum of money to set aside based on current pay rates. It is expected the pay study will show some career fields are very underpaid while others are less so.  Some jobs may show they are making market value.

To remind readers, this study is looking at pay and all benefits to make a determination of where city workers stand in respect to their counterparts in other government and commercial entities. That is one of the main reasons that the study of a couple of years ago was stopped and thrown out. That study looked primarily at pay.  In addition, to compare jobs, salaries, and benefits, job descriptions need to be accurate and relate to the job being done.  Our job descriptions were a train wreck and nowhere close to being accurate. We have employees doing similar or exactly the same jobs, yet you would be hard pressed, in some cases, to know they were the same based on who, what or how their job description was written. This study set out to correct that problem.  It is impossible to compare like jobs and wages in our city to another if the descriptions of similar jobs in our city read worlds apart.

We hope to see the study results in September and the council will determine how to apply the pay raise money based on study recommendations.

Police

The budget has the city funding four (4) new officer positions. In addition, the city is trying for another grant that will help fund an additional 12 officer positions. However, the city tried to win a grant last year, but we were unsuccessful.  While I hope we will get the grant, I do not have much confidence in the odds. Our police force has done an outstanding job in fighting crime. The crime stats (which I sent to readers a couple of weeks ago) show crime has dropped in Clarksville.  We need more officers on the force, but lower crime rates will likely weaken our chances against cities that are experiencing higher crime rates.  According to FBI population to police officer ratios, we are around 50 officers short. I would like to fund several more officers, but I will have to find budget trade-offs and get enough support.

Street

The good news in the Street Dept is we will be able to pave close to 31 miles of street compared to the 18 miles we have done on average (this compares to only 14 miles per year prior to 2007). We have set aside money and also gained some federal money to help with this. The money to fix Sango Road and Hwy76/MLK and the intersections at 76/Madison and Richview/Madison is still there. The Street Dept and I have fought to keep these funds. The state is taking forever to approve our plans to fix these areas (they are all state roads), but either late fall or early spring of 2011 is the construction date. I hope it happens sooner, but with the state, no one knows.

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