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Debate Heats Up As Board Looks At Employee Pay Rates

By Eric X. Viccaro

Ste. Genevieve Herald

A special Ste. Genevieve Board of Aldermen work session on July 23 turned contested when discussions centered on employee salaries.

Several city alderpeople expressed concerns over how low certain hourly wages were during the session – as the leaders began hammering out details regarding the Fiscal Year [FY] 2020-21 budget.

A couple of salient questions arose. One, how to better attract potential hires to work for the city. And another on employee retention.

Ste. Genevieve city administrator Happy Welch reported full-time street, parks and administration wages begin at $10.45 per hour.

“But, that can be higher depending on qualifications,” Welch noted.

Street and parks salaries increase to $12 an hour when an employee satisfactorily passes a CDL driving test.

The starting salary of a police officer is $16.94, with the higher figure stemming from passage of Proposition P in April 2019, which passed 53.5 percent to 46.5 percent and increased  assessed valuation on personal property and real estate.

A person who works part-time for the city earns $9.45 an hour, Welch reported in an email to the Herald.

Overall, the city of Ste. Genevieve has 24 employees, with nearly half of them in the police department. There are six full-time positions in public works, and seven in administration capacities.

There are no dispatch positions within the local police force since St. Francois County handles that task.

The fire department is mainly a volunteer operation; however, the chief and two assistants receive a stipend, Welch said.

There was consensus from the aldermen they would like to improve the salary schedule.

Some city leaders expressed they would like to see raises and promotions directly tied to performance reviews – and not provide simply a three percent merit-based increase.

Typically, city employee performance reviews must be completed by the end of June.

Welch went over the initial budget numbers during the work session, which places $1,734,379 in general revenues and $1,170,015 in the general fund balance surplus.

“The general revenue is a conservative estimate,” Welch said.

One of the reasons for the conservatism is due to concerns regarding the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic.

The overall beginning balance is slated to be $6,248,906.

Ste. Genevieve’s budget contains both a general fund with line items for community development, police department and welcome center – as well an enterprise/dedicated funds.