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5:09 AM Fri, Dec. 14th

Raises on city of Kingman council agenda

KINGMAN - Mayor Janet Watson will lead one of the final work sessions of her political career April 18 when the City Council discusses the 2014-2015 budget.

At the Council's last session in early March, City Manager John Dougherty said increasing employee compensation is his No. 1 priority for the upcoming fiscal year beginning July 1. Seven years have passed since city employees saw a pay increase. In the interim, rising health care premiums and co-pays have cut into those paychecks.

Human Resources and Risk Management Director Jackie Walker at that meeting said morale has been impacted across the board.

Police Chief Robert DeVries has more than a low morale problem. Veteran officers are leaving the Kingman Police Department to take jobs with agencies that offer better pay and benefits.

While the roughly 300 employees no doubt hope Watson and the Council find a way to give them a raise, Dougherty said there is "no way" the city could make up for seven years at one time.

The city's current payroll is $17 million in salaries and $8 million in benefits, according to Finance Director Coral Loyd. Dougherty said an additional $3 million would be required to bring up salaries to the 50th percentile, based on national statistics.

Council members seem open to the idea of increasing salaries, but they asked Dougherty to study wages in the region rather than nationwide in order to come up with a realistic number.

The workshop will get under way at 9 a.m. in the City Council Chambers, 310 N. Fourth Street.