ITHACA, NY – From Jan. 2015 to Jan. 2017, high level administrators with the city of Ithaca will be receiving pay raises up to 17 percent of their current salary. As it stands today, most other city of Ithaca employees will be receiving none.
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The 2015 Managerial Compensation Plan, a resolution passed unanimously by Ithaca’s Common Council on Jan. 7 2015, initiated these raises. Positions including the city attorney, the city controller, the police and fire chiefs, the superintendent of public works and several other high ranking city positions are set to receive these raises.
Meanwhile, lower-level city workers, including administrative workers, public works employees, police officers and firefighters are operating under expired contracts and are not set to receive raises this year.
The Civil Service Employees Association (CSEA) represents about 108 city administrative personnel and 98 from public works. According to CSEA Spokesman Mark Kotzin the administrative unit’s contract with the city expired at the end of last year, while public works unit’s contract expired at the end of 2014.
Kortzin said that the administrative employees had recently reached an impasse in negotiations with the city – and the public works employees are headed in that direction as well.
Once impasse is reached, a mediator is called in for the next stage of negotiations. According to Kotzin, the issue of pay raises is at the center of the dispute.
Kotzin says that city employees are not looking for anything exorbitant – citing a minimum increase of 2 percent – and said the CSEA feels the city can afford to pay such an increase, but “lacks the political will to do so.”
The fact that higher level employees are getting raises isn’t the problem, according to Kotzin, but “it doesn’t help.”
“We don’t begrudge anyone a fair wage increase,” Kotzin said, “but our members deserve the same.”
Closing the raise gap
According to Mayor Svante Myrick, the 2015 Managerial Compensation plan reflects a long gap in pay raises for high-level city employees. He says the people in these positions haven’t received raises for seven or eight years, while lower level employees have received raises during that time.
City Attorney Aaron Levine, who is receiving a raise, made the following statement in an email:
“Across the past ten years, City employees represented by the CSEA-Admin union have seen their salaries grow over one-third faster than managerial employees of the City. Negotiations with CSEA-Admin have been productive and cooperative, and the City looks forward to finishing out the process in a manner that is fair both to these valued employees and to the taxpayers who pay their salaries.”
Myrick also explained that the union employees have better benefit packages. While he stressed that these weren’t exact numbers, he said that higher level city employees might pay anywhere from $5,000 to $10,000 annually for their health insurance. Meanwhile, some union employees pay closer to $600.
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