In a special meeting held Tuesday, June 4, the Butterfield City Council discussed pay equity restraints in respect to employee insurance.
Because the public works supervisor is compensated for insurance at $3 an hour, the city clerk must be offered $3 an hour for compensation in order to be in compliance with pay equity standards.
According to calculations by Butterfield Council Member Nick Mathistad, the cost of fixing the pay equity problem to the city is about $12,000 with this addition of insurance compensation.
“My big problem with this is that when Sunde was here he sat and said this would solve the problem,” said Mathistad. “He said we give that $4 raise, we’re done. Which was a load of bull, because this exact thing came back.”
Mathistad was hesitant to agree to pay raises for city employees to solve the pay equity problem. He was hoping to find a solution that would also help the city balance its budget, but as the problem has progressed the solution is costing the city more and more money.
After an unsuccessful motion to compensate the clerk at the same rate as the public works supervisor for insurance, Mathistad presented a motion to set insurance at $1.45 per hour for each employee.
This motion would have ultimately lowered the hourly wages of the public works supervisor who was being compensated at $3 an hour for insurance and would have opened up salary negotiations.
“Are you ready for a resignation if you change the salary on a worker?” Asked Council Member Howard Madson.
Butterfield Mayor Ken Pankratz said he too could see the public works supervisor resigning if his wages were lowered by the council.
This motion was defeated by a 2-2 vote with Pankratz and Madson voting no and Mathistad and Warwick voting yes. Council Member Doug Meyer would have been able to break the tie, but he was not present at the special meeting June 4.
Council Member Jim Warwick told the council that for a small town, the city of Butterfield’s maintenance salary is higher than any other cities in the same category with the exception of Trimont. Currently, the public works supervisor makes $19 an hour.
If the pay equity problem was not solved by June 11, 2013, the city would be fined for noncompliance and the fine would come out of local government aid. Mayor Pankratz said that if they were to lose that government aid the city would go bankrupt.
A solution had to be reached during the special meeting.
Ultimately, council members were unable to come up with a compromise or a solution, but did manage to pass a resolution unanimously that will solve the pay equity problem in the meantime. The city clerk was offered insurance benefits with the understanding that the clerk would refuse coverage. Pay negotiations will take place this December to further solve the problem.