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The Pay Raise Amendment

by on December 13th, 2007

Budget Amendment

Click on the above amendment to see what was submitted to the City Council of Wausau as a response apparently to the brouhaha about pay raises for senior staff. It was submitted by Rosenberg, who is also a member of the Citizen Wausau community (though we hardly hear from him these days), but it ended up getting tabled by some others on the Council. To be honest, by that point I had lost interest in the whole thing and was beginning to make smart remarks to the people around me, à la Mystery Science Theatre.

I have no particular allegiance to Rosenberg, but my thought on this is that at least he gave it a shot. He took time out from his day and, with help from the professional staff, created this sort of compromise to a problem that has been in existence apparently for at least 4 years. The head of the HR Committee has made this a crusade to alter the matrix of these staff people to reflect a raise.

The public outcry has been huge, and clearly ill-defined. Many voices yelling about raises for these PEOPLE, when in fact that is not what is happening. Many people yelling that this will raise your property taxes, when in fact that is not happening as well.

I do not claim to be a genius in this area, but let me see if I am right about what I have learned. Years ago, it was decided that the city pay rates were off at the higher levels. That the leaders and true professionals that guide our city financially and legally were not being properly compensated. So the City Council voted to hire a consultant to compare our wages with other similar cities. According to that data, which Deb Hadley showed by manipulating the numbers, at median levels our employees are fine.

BUT, as attorney Nagel pointed out to Deb Hadley, the employees in question are not in the median range, and based on experience are in the high range, thereby making them underpaid.

This went on for months. The numbers have been shifted, changed, redressed, altered, hoodwinked and bamboozled. All in an attempt to alter this matrix.

Let us be clear about this point: this is not an attempt to give the people in this job a raise. They have the ability to get raises, however the city handles that. I am sure that they get them from time to time. This, though, is an attempt to fix a disparity in the pay matrix for the City of Wausau employee pay scale. Any attempt to make this about these people specifically or talk about THEIR raises is simply an attempt to lead us down the wrong path. It allows for a discussion about what they do to deserve raises, who they are and all that.

The fact is, this is not about them. It is about how we as a city view the professionals who work for us. What sort of people we want guiding our multimillion dollar budget, handling our legal affairs, and leading our fire department. Would we rather them be children, willing to accept 20 grand a year, or would we rather have them be career professionals that will guide us in better ways?

I found the personalization of the attack by Miss Abitz to be disheartening. The discussion of Mary Ann Groat by this alleged letter writer was terrible. I thought it was a blatant slap in the face by this council person toward Ms. Groat. It was a clear personal attack, given voice through the words of a letter writer.

I found the actions of the Taxpayers League, or whoever they were, to be ill thought out. What was the purpose of that speech by that lady? I had never even heard of the group that she is a leader for. But upon a little research it turns out that the Wausau Taxpayers League primary role has been to show up from time to time and say, “You’re spending too much money!” Well fine, that seems like a great position – if our role is to never move forward.

But, I ask this, do we not need to spend money to make progress? What do you collect my taxes for, if not to spend them on the things that this city needs? I think that this city needs a properly adjusted pay matrix, with our professional staff getting paid what others in the field do.

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