The Skagway Borough Assembly voted unanimously to not implement a 2013 Cost of Living Allowance of 3.1 percent for municipal employees. The COLA is based on the Anchorage Consumer Price Index.
Because each municipal employee has the potential to earn a 2.2 percent raise each year after an annual review, the assembly thought an additional 3.1 percent increase was too much.
Assemblyman Tim Cochran said he is not against a pay increase for cost of living, but he said what is not readily known to most people is that municipal employees that receive a positive review get a 2.2 percent step increase rate each year, which would be a 5.3 percent raise in if the COLA was implemented.
“If this passes to FY2015 (budget), the treasurer stated in a Finance Committee meeting today that it’s (an approximate) $132,000 increase in a budget line item for payroll,” he said, adding that the potential increase coupled with a grade increase requested by the Skagway Recreation Center for employees is a substantial increase for one single year.
Cochran said municipal employees have a very good benefit package on top of the yearly raises.
“I want to pay our employees fairly, but those are very large numbers and probably not sustainable,” said Mayor Mark Schaefer.
Assemblyman Spencer Morgan, along with other assembly members, agreed with Cochran, but Morgan suggested taking a look at a .9 percent cost of living increase.
“With their annual raises (the municipality adds) a cost of living increase of .9… will bring it up to that 3.1 percent to kind of mitigate our cost to the city but also help the cost of living allowance that they need,” he said.
The assembly voted unanimously in opposition to the ordinance but could be looking at a potential lesser cost of living increase as Morgan suggested.