By Ivan Raconteur
LESTER PRAIRIE, MN Lester Prairie City Council approved a final 2013 levy of $640,197 during Tuesday’s meeting.
This represents an increase of $31,243, or 5.13 percent from the 2012 levy. However, it is less than the city’s 2011 levy.
Lester Prairie’s levy did not increase in 2009. Since then, it increased by 6 percent in 2010, and 2 percent in 2011; and decreased by 5 percent in 2012.
Wages and benefits discussed
The council discussed wages and benefits for city employees.
Council Member Eric Angvall said the council has approved increases for all city suppliers, so it should approve raises for city employees.
Mayor Andy Heimerl said he is concerned about giving blanket raises to all employees. He noted that by doing this, the city is giving an employee who is doing an “A-plus” job the same thing as an employee who is doing a “C-plus” job.
Angvall said the city could implement a two-tier system for employee compensation, but will not be able to get this done by January.
Heimerl said this is something the council should think about next year.
He also expressed concern about including funds for employee raises in the city budget before approving raises.
It was noted that funding was added to the budget to cover 3 percent increases for employee wages.
“Let’s not build them in before we give them,” Heimerl said.
He noted that a department head said at a previous meeting that if the council did not approve using the money for wages, the employee would use the funds elsewhere in the department budget.
“It looks cleaner if we establish the raise before we give it,” Heimerl said.
He added that it would be nice to work toward a two-tier system.
The council tabled discussion of employee wages and benefits until January.
Odds and ends
In other business, the council:
• approved a 3.3 percent increase in the city’s engineering services contract with Bolton & Menk. There was a 1.1 percent increase in 2012, and no increase in the previous two years.
• approved a personnel policy change allowing full-time employees who are receiving workers compensation and have exhausted their accumulated sick leave to supplement their workers compensation by using accumulated vacation time.
• approved hiring Alan Lange as an additional part-time police officer.
• adopted an ordinance providing standards for the use of solar energy equipment in the city.
• discussed filling the vacant assistant city clerk position and authorized Heimerl to work with City Clerk Marilyn Pawelk to develop a job description and advertise for candidates.