Peabody City Council and Mayor Ed Slocombe held a lengthy discussion Dec. 29 about cost of living adjustments for city employees. Interim City Clerk Stephanie Ax presented a spreadsheet to show 1 percent to 5 percent increases in wages and how those increases would impact city employee salaries.
Ax also included information on how a specific “cent-per-hour” COLA increase would compare to a percentage increase. Council members discussed that a percentage increase widens the disparity between the high and low-end salaries, giving more to those who are already at the highest salary range.
Councilman Tom Schmidt noted that a 45-cent per hour increase generated the same amount of money as a three percent COLA.
Council members approved a 45-cent per hour COLA increase for 2009 for all full-time employees, including those in a probationary period. Part-time help will be given wage adjustments at the time of their performance review.
In other business, the council:
- instructed Ax to issue a refund check to Jeff Madsen for a cash bond that he made before the case in question was dismissed by the court. Ax agreed to have the check for him Wednesday.
- heard from Jim Rippe that he had concerns about Peabody Historical Society neglecting to shovel snow from the sidewalks when there was heavy accumulation. He asked the PHS be made aware of its responsibility.
- heard a presentation by Renee Rhodes of Insurance Management Associates about developing a safety education plan for city employees. No decision was made.
- heard from Sheri Hillger of Hilger Insurance the city’s current health care plan will take a 16 percent hike this year. Hillger presented options available to the city through other companies. Hillger will return to the Jan. 26 meeting and present a comparison chart between the current coverage and another.
- heard Darren Pickens had visited several area merchants to get a price on lumber and some supplies for the new city shop. He presented bids from three businesses. Claassen True Value of Newton was the highest bid and Peabody Hardware and Lumber was the lowest. The council approved purchasing the lumber and supplies from Peabody Hardware and Lumber.
- approved cereal malt beverage licenses to Peabody Market, Food Mart, and the American Legion.
- heard from Ax that Kansas Department of Health and Environment has not yet issued a release on the former sewer project. Council members voted to approve the going out for bids for the final demolition pending receipt of the “No Further Action” letter from the state.
- the topic of tagging cats was put on the agenda once again by Councilman Pam Lamborn, who is opposed to purchasing an annual tag for a cat since most cats will not leave them on. She believes that tagging cats is just income enhancement for the city and serves no real purpose. After discussion it was decided that since the 2009 registration year is already under way, the appropriate time to discuss changes to the process is at mid-year.
- instructed animal control officer Tammy Whiteside to contact other area veterinary clinics about veterinarian services as well as temporary housing of strays. Council members expressed concern that Spur Ridge Vet Hospital is only willing to hold an animal three days before euthanizing it.
- heard from Whiteside about nuisance properties in the community.
- heard from Peabody Police Chief Bruce Burke about the inability of Peabody law enforcement to store vehicles for two-to-eight months. It creates a loss of revenue for the city. Burke asked if the city would consider letting him use the old city shop for storage or create a bullpen at the new city shop. No decision was reached.
- approved a request by Burke to attend training at no cost to address the new stalking policy implemented at the direction of the Kansas Attorney General’s Office.
- assigned Lamborn and LaFoy to a committee with Burke to review all the requests for changes to the Standard Traffic Ordinances to allow other means of conveyance on Peabody streets. The committee will meet at 3:30 p.m. Friday at Jack Rabbit Hollow. Recommendations will be brought to the Jan. 26 council meeting.
- created a process for screening candidates for the city clerk position. The city has received five applications. There will be a special meeting Jan. 19 to review the applications and pick the top candidates for interviews.
- heard a review of year-end financial, operational, and administrative projects from Ax.