Council approves extra pay in effort to retain city employees

Public safety employees especially showed dedication during the pandemic

Webb City employees are being rewarded financially for their dedication during the pandemic in an effort to keep them working for the city.

City Administrator Carl Francis received approval for a plan to pay 40 commissioned public safety employees $3,000 and 55 non-commissioned employees $1,000.

The distinction is that public service employees had to come to work during the pandemic and didn’t ask for or receive compensatory time off. Francis said those not involved in public safety also demonstrated their dedication to the city.

The cost of the one-time payments, including payroll taxes, will total $188,000.

Francis said he made the proposal to combat the sign-on bonuses other departments are using to attract new employees.

There was a discussion about the competitiveness of salaries, especially for patrol officers because the police department has a higher than usual number of unfilled positions.

Francis said the department has lost two officers who have gone to other departments (Joplin and Carthage).

He defended the patrol officer salaries by saying they average more than $40,000, not counting benefits such as being able to take their cruisers home.

Additionally, he noted that there is no longer a salary cap on positions, as there are at competing departments. That means officers can continue to receive merit and cost-of-living pay increases when they would otherwise hit a pay ceiling.

Mayor Lynn Ragsdalye said, “When we took that (salary caps) off it was huge.”

The $188,000 will be the city’s fourth expenditure from the American Rescue Plan Act funds it has received.

The other ARPA expenditures have or will be for:

• New sound and visual technology in the city council chambers at City Hall.

• The storm water retention pond at MacArthur and Powell drives.

• Widening of East Street north of the roundabout to Daugherty Street.

The council approved a grant contract with the Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission to provide a traffic engineering analysis plan.

The city’s matching cost will be $30,000 this year and $30,000 next year.

In the first year, staff believes roughly half of the streets in the city can be tested. Results of the study will indicate which areas will need to be paved or reconstructed in the future.

Jerry Fisher (2nd Ward) said he’d rather spend the money on overlaying streets that obviously need to be fixed. But he said he would go along, and the ordinance was approved 8-0 on both readings.

Renewal of the city’s contract with the Joplin Humane Society was approved on second reading.

The rate pet owners have to pay the city to pick up their stray pets at the humane society is increasing to $63.07 plus the daily care fee of $9.10.

Ragsdale said he’s been told a couple of times by pet owners that they appreciate the police department holding stray pets before taking them to the humane society. The police department even has a microchip reader to aid in notifying pet owners.

Four requests passed on to the council from the Nov. 21 meeting of the Planning and Zoning Commission were accepted on first reading.

• 420 S. Devon St. – Burns Investments wants to rezone the property from commercial to multi-family zoning.

• 524 W. Broadway – Kyler Baker wants a special use permit to rent storage units in the old Broadway Market building.

• 811 N. Main St. – Scott Roderique and Dennis Kimzey (R.O.K. Investments) want to rezone the half block it’s purchasing that faces the Webster Primary Center playground and new veterans building from commercial to multi-family housing. Depending on whether MoDOT will allow driveways from Main Street, there might be single-family homes instead of apartments.

• 502 S. Garrison St. – Mason Williams wants to rezone the property from multi-family to industrial for storage units.

Francis reports that since the new ordinance regulating short-term rentals has taken effect there have been two applications within residential zones. Both were denied because more than 50% of the surrounding property owners disapproved.

It’s typical for the council to only meet once in December. The next meeting will be Jan. 9.