Council doubles employees’ merit pay raise to 5%

Employees can also expect to get an annual COLA raise next spring

Webb City Council members accepted the city’s annual budget on Monday – with one big change. They want to give virtually all employees twice the merit pay increase that they normally get.

Jim Dawson (4th Ward) recommended that employees receive a 5% merit pay increase instead of the normal 2.5% increase they usually receive at the start of the new fiscal year on Nov. 1.

Dawson said the city is in a good financial position right now to reward employees and help them keep up with inflation. “All numbers (fund balances) are positive, and we’re showing sales-tax growth,” he said.

The budget includes a record amount of proposed capital spending, totaling $8,114,248.

It would be unusual if the city managed to complete all of its proposed capital spending projects next year, but even if they did, Dawson pointed to the projected total of all fund balances a year from now, which is $5,702,010 (before the additional raise).

Tracy Craig, financial administrator, calculates that additional salary increase will cost $174,746.

Also in the budget for employees is the annual 2.5% cost of living adjustment pay increase, which is given in the spring.

Mayor Lynn Ragsdale noted that since the budget is prepared by staff members, it would be awkward for them to recommend a larger than normal salary increase.

“I want to be fair, but I want to keep them,” Ragsdale said about the city’s employees.

An amendment to increase the merit pay increase from 2.5% to 5% received a unanimous 7-0 vote. Gina Monson (2nd Ward) was absent.

First reading of the budget bill, including the amended salaries, also received a unanimous vote.

Second (final) reading will be on the council’s next agenda, at 5:30 p.m. Monday, Oct. 24.

More than a fourth of the planned capital expenditures, $2,722,612, will be financed with money received from the American Rescue Plan Act.

The city is expecting to receive the last of $2,765,506 in ARPA funding in 2023. Funds received so far: $1,224,233 in 2021 and $1,236,714 in 2022, have not been spent yet. Another $304,500 is expected to be received in 2023.

The biggest project to be financed fully with ARPA funding is construction of the storm water retention pond at Highway 171 and Colonial Drive, at an estimated cost of $1,500,000.

A combination of funds will be used to finance the widening of East Street, which is expected to cost $3,250,224.

City Administrator Carl Francis announced that the Missouri Department of Transportation has approved the city’s application for a grant to construct a sidewalk on the east side of East Street from the roundabout to Daugherty Street.

The city delayed some street overlay projects in 2022, hoping for the price of asphalt to drop. The 2023 budget for street overlay is $500,000.

Rezoning to R-3 on Shenandoah Street delayed

Neighbors opposed to rezoning property five lots at 315 and 317 Shenandoah St. complained that they weren’t notified about the public hearing on the matter that was held Sept. 19 by the Planning and Zoning Commission.

There was no opposition at that hearing, and the commission approved sending on the request to the city council.

Rick Roth, director of street and water, said he would investigate whether notices were sent out properly.

In the meantime, the council postponed acting on the council bill until Oct. 24.

Cheryl Brown, a nearby homeowner opposed to the rezoning, referred to it as spot zoning since all of the surrounding properties are zoned R-1 for single-family residences.

R-3 is for multi-family units.

“We like it the way it is,” said Caren Schnittker, 316 Forest St. She characterized it as “a nice quiet neighborhood.”

Marcy Newman, the owner of several properties in the neighborhood, said it’s secluded and close to everything. She questioned whether the street and sewer are adequate.

In other action, the council:

Accepted a $55,326 grant from the Missouri State Emergency Management Agency to pay a portion the salaries of Police Chief Don Melton and Fire Chief Andrew Roughton. Melton is the city’s emergency management director, and Roughton is the assistant director.

Accepted first reading of the new short-term rental bill.

Accepted first reading of a special use permit for Burns Investments to use two apartments on the second floor of its 12-unit complex at 502 S. Centennial St. as short-term rentals.

Accepted first reading of a special use permit for Apple Healthcare to operate an outdoor wedding venue at 28 S. Webb St.