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Geneva aldermen OK salary range adjustments in split vote

GENEVA – After more than an hour of debate Dec. 4, aldermen approved a job compensation and classification plan in a split vote that will cost the city an additional $160,000 the first year and $130,000 the second year.

The city shared the cost of a study by Gallagher Benefit Services with Batavia, which included a survey of salary ranges in comparable communities, officials said.

Gallagher representative Michael Verdoorn presented the study at a Committee of the Whole meeting Nov. 27. The study’s findings showed that Geneva paid 10 percent below what peer cities were paying among some salary ranges, but were paying competitively among other jobs.

“It’s a guidepost, not a decision point,” Verdoorn said.

City Administrator Stephanie Dawkins said the city’s wage gap occurred when the economy tanked, and that when other communities increased salaries when the economy began to rebound, Geneva did not.

Fourth Ward Alderman James Radecki said he thought the issue should be set aside for a policy discussion Jan. 29.

Radecki also charged that it seemed like the Gallagher representative “was acting as an advocate for the increase” and voting for it would be unfair to employees and to taxpayers. “It felt like that,” Radecki said. “Is it prudent to move this to a vote tonight? ... It is patently unfair to employees. I also think it is unfair to the folks who are going to pay for it.”

But 5th Ward Alderman Craig Maladra said the council unanimously approved the consultant’s contract in June.

“That does not make them an advocate,” Maladra said.

The council created the wage gap in some salary ranges by holding down adjustments once the economy picked up, Maladra said. “Not everyone is in line for a big-ticket raise,” Maladra said. “It’s not a blanket thing. ... It adjusts positions that none of us would consider to be competitive.”

Aldermen voted 6-3 with one absent to approve the plan and its implementation for the 2018 and 2019 fiscal years.

Second Ward Aldermen Donald Cummings and Richard Marks and Radecki voted no; 3rd Ward Alderman Dean Kilburg was absent.

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