By Leilani Haywood
Several members of the Lee’s Summit City Council Finance and Budget Committee discussed the possibility of offering one-time bonuses to city workers at its April 2, 2018 meeting, which was formally cancelled due to the lack of quorum. Mayor Pro Tem Rob Binney and Council member Craig Faith were there. Vice Chair Councilwoman Phyllis Edson, Councilmember Dave Mosby and Alternate Council member Fred DeMoro were absent. Although no official business was acted on, Binney and Faith still discussed the possibility of offering bonuses to city employees with Nancy Yendes, chief counsel of Infrastructure and Planning.
“I think the employee base has a feeling that the city’s only been focused on building back up the reserve,” Binney said. He asked Yendes, “If we have a year where there is a million dollars excess is there something that says that we can’t take and put five or 10 percent aside to do a pay bonus or bonus structure realizing it’s a one-time not a recurring thing but something to think over the years?”
Yendes replied to Binney, “When you’re talking about bonuses you have to provide for that in advance of the service you’re rewarding. So if you say in December you knew you’re going to have excess into the budget and you wanted to provide a bonus you would need to be doing it sufficiently in advance that you’re not paying for work that’s already been performed because under state law your salary is your salary, your hourly rate your hourly rate at the time you’re performing the work. We can’t go back at the end of the year and say let’s give everybody a five percent bump if we didn’t plan that and have that as part of the compensation package for that time period. So if you’re interested in having that opportunity the staff could certainly explore how that could happen.”
Yendes noted that the city of Springfield created a bonus structure for sanitary department employees connected to a savings plan. “Sanitary services in Springfield set up a program that if the employees contributed to a savings over a time period then there was a bonus,” she explained. “And it was a formula. And if they achieved that savings they got the bonus. It wasn’t just we’re going to pass out a thousand dollars to everybody. We were not allowed to do that in the public sector.”
Binney added that the one-time bonus would be contingent on the one-time projected excess in the City’s annual budget. Lee’s Summit City Council had narrowly defeated a pay raise bill at its March 15, 2018 meeting Nick Edwards, assistant city manager said that city employees salaries accounted for $31 million or 70 percent of the budget during his monthly financial dashboard presentation. The city’s revenue is based upon property tax, franchise tax and sales tax.
“We’ve already received a large majority of our property tax for fiscal year 18,” Edwards said. “We are slightly below budget but in above last year’s amount, same with sales tax. We are seeing that we’re better than budgeted amounts by one percent or $90,000. And then the same for franchise tax up one percent or $46,000 dollars in total.”
The city has received $20,256,557 in property taxes.
The licenses, permit and fees line item was up by 21 percent with an increase of $293,978 over the budgeted amount of $1,402,810. “Generally when you see an increase in that category that’s primarily attributed to new development,” Edwards said. “I guess that’s why we’re maybe exceeding budget this year is that either new projects come on that we didn’t anticipate. And also sometimes the more complex developments generate higher fees schedule so those could be it could be a combination of a development that wasn’t planned or a really complex development but that’s a that’s a positive thing.” Edwards added that the increase was a one-time thing and not a recurring item.
Edwards reminded the committee that next Finance and Budget committee meeting is Monday, April 30th followed by Tuesday, May 1st. At those meetings, departments would be presenting their spending requests and budget followed by an intensive budget overview by City Finance Director Conrad Lamb.