Evansville is implementing an across-the-board wage increase for town employees.
“Everybody is on the books right now to get a pay raise — at least 5% is where we’re looking at right now,” Evansville Mayor Chad Edwards said during a town council meeting Monday night.
The raises average about 11% and will take effect in April, Edwards said. Employees can expect to receive letters by the end of March with more specifics.
The town is also implementing a new, three-part pay structure, which breaks town employees into three categories: general government, police and fire. Each category will have step-based pay increases built in.
The plan was put together in a wage study by Laurie Graves Consulting.
The study surveyed other Wyoming and Mountain West communities about employee compensation, and used the data to put together a plan to bring Evansville wages closer to market rate.
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“I think it’s been something we’ve needed for a long time,” Edwards said Monday. “I don’t know that such a study’s ever been done on the town.”
The council already set aside the money to cover the April wage increases in its budget for fiscal year 2023, Edwards said at the meeting.
The town expects to budget roughly $208,000 to cover the wage increases in the next funding cycle.
Evansville joins Casper, which approved a plan for raises for city staff last year.
First, workers received two back-to-back cost-of-living adjustments, which both increased wages 3.5%. The first kicked in July 1, and the second, at the beginning of January.
On July 1, city staff were also granted “in-band” raises of 5%. Wage “bands” refer to pay ranges for specific jobs.
Say you’re a salaried worker and the wage band tied to your job is $40,000 to $45,000 annually. If your workplace approves an across-the-board “in-band” increase of 5%, and you currently make $41,000 a year, your pay will go up to $43,050.
But since you can’t exceed the salary ceiling imposed by the wage band, if you already earned $45,000 the in-band raise wouldn’t affect you.
Mills is taking a serious look at pay increases, too, said Mayor Leah Juarez.
It’s currently negotiating with the fire department on raises for its employees. But it’ll take a lot more work in order to get across-the-board raises approved, Juarez said.
“It’s honestly a pretty complicated process when you do it the right way,” she said.
The city doesn’t have the money to pay for raises right now. It’s currently looking into ways to increase revenue that don’t simply involve raising taxes.
Mill is also creating a new HR position. According to Juarez, that person will be tasked with reviewing each job at the city and making sure that everyone’s paid fairly.
While the city does modest cost-of-living-based increases for employees, overall, the wages aren’t competitive, Juarez added.
The last time Mills made a major change to its employee compensation plan was back in 2017. That established gradual wage increases for workers’ first five years of employment, she said.
The raises come as inflation and lagging wages are make it increasingly difficult for local governments across the country to retain their employees.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ consumer price index, a metric that measures how costs of living change over time, jumped more than 10% in the Mountain West from February 2021 to February 2022. From February 2022 to February 2023, it increased roughly 8%, according to the agency’s website.
The last time the U.S. experienced inflation this steep was the early ’80s.