Peachtree City employees are getting a raise following a 3-2 vote Thursday night.
Peachtree City Mayor Vanessa Fleisch unloaded on Council Member Eric Imker after he said the vote should be tabled because there were still many questions left unanswered from the Condrey & Associates study that recommended the increase.
Fleisch insisted that Imker had known for months about the study and had plenty of time to examine it.
“For you to say this is a surprise… you’ve known about this for months,” Fleisch said while also scolding Imker for not attending the workshop meeting in which Dr. Condrey presented his results.
Imker had developed his own plan for pay raises that he revealed in September as part of his design for an extensive, last minute change to the city’s FY 2015 budget. Imker had called for an inverted 2-percent pay increase which would have given the majority of the money to the lowest salaried employees, as much as a 5-percent increase for those at the bottom of the pay scale.
Fleisch suggested that Dr. Condrey, an expert in the field of Human Resources, did not think much of Imker’s idea. She asked City Manger Jim Pennington to relay what Condrey had “really thought” of the idea.
Pennington laughed and said “I don’t think I want to comment.”
Fleisch said she had seen a problem with employee pay and morale since she had begun serving on city council.
“This is not about rhetoric, this is finally setting something right that has been wrong for years,” Fleisch said.
Council Members Mike King and Terry Ernst agreed with Mayor Fleisch. The Condrey study indicated Peachtree City is currently at the 35th percentile in terms of salaries as compared to comparable markets.
“Being in the 35th percentile is an embarrassment,” King said. “We’ve got a chance to do something tonight that previous councils have probably kicked down the road.”
Imker took issue with the idea that Peachtree City was in the 35th percentile for pay. He said the study inappropriately compared the city’s salaries to those “right in the middle of metro Atlanta.” He said that most Peachtree City employees come from “within a 15 mile radius of Peachtree City,” and within that area the city is in the 90th percentile for pay.
Imker also questioned the claim that the city had struggled to fill positions with qualified candidates.
Human Resources Director Ellece Brown made the comment that a couple maintenance technician positions had taken around 18 months to fill. She also said she had, on some occasions, been “embarrassed” to offer jobs to applicants based on their low level of qualifications but had to do so for lack of other applicants.
Imker said “filling a few positions and having a difficult time doing it is not a need to spend a million to fix.”
Council Member Kim Learnard also vote against the salary increase, saying she had wanted more time to consider it after hearing the Condrey presentation.
“This is a million dollar decision and I don’t take a million dollar decision lightly no matter what it is,” she said.
Learnard and Imker both said they agreed the city employees should get a pay raise but wanted more time to look at the particulars of the Condrey study as well as other options.