February 12, 2016

Gardner gave merit, COLA increases in 2014

debbies chart with story

Graphic by Debbie Hickman

Debbie Hickman
Special to The Gardner News
Gardner officials gave merit raises and cost-of-living adjustments in 2014. The wages shown in the chart above include base pay for full time employees and do not include benefits, bonuses, differential or overtime. The information was received under a KORA request and shows ending salaries as of December 2013 and June 2014. Merit increases are not bonuses; base pay plus merit increase becomes a permanent addition to base salary. The city no longer publishes salary ordinances; however, salary amounts are available to the public upon request.
Although The Gardner News asked for specifics of how last year’s $60,000 merit budget was distributed, city staff replied that they were exercising their rights under Kansas Open Records Act (KORA) to decline to produce such documentation; however they did produce all employee names, positions and hourly rate.
The original KORA request was made June 27, and the information was supplied July 11. The city declined to supply the merit raise formula, or employees who received it, so The Gardner News compared ending 2013 salaries to those of June 2014, taking into account the 3 percent COLA.
On July 7, city council members directed staff to allow $80,000 for merit increases in the 2015 proposed budget.
According to Gardner News calculations, excluding the electric utility, the top five employee raises, which included cost of living adjustments (COLA) plus merit increases, were:  wastewater plant supervisor, $6,718, including a 9.3 percent merit increase; finance director, $6,552, including a 3.9 percent merit increase; administrative services manager $5,699, including a 4 percent merit increase; and water plant supervisor, $5,241, including a 6.7 percent merit increase.
The largest percentage increase went to the meter reader technician and was 12.9 percent; both other meter readers received merit increases of 8.8 percent and 8.5 percent, respectively.


  1. Judith Rogers says:

    I wonder if the citizens will be re-electing their present City Council members and the Mayor since they are the ones authorizing these excessive types of increases, especially when the employees have been so well paid and get fringe benefits that many, many citizens can only dream of having.

    Do you think your Human Resources Mgr. Mary Bush, Finance Director Gourley and City Mgr. Cheryl Harrison-Lee have been showing any type of fiscal responsibility in doing their well paid jobs? They sure as hell have been getting and enjoying enormous increases on the citizens’ dime in my opinion. Our City Mgr. came here off the street and immediately got three weeks vacation and TWO pension plans and less than a year she got her vacation time increased to 6 weeks and one of her pension plan percentages increased again. I had to work 16 years before I got my first company paid 3 week vacation. Right this year your City Mgr. is getting $450 monthly car allowance and as per her 2013 contract that amount will jump to $950 per month in two years. Think your Council members, Mayor and those bureaucrats are working for YOU, THE CITIZENS? I sure as hell don’t and told them that yesterday and lots more is involved than just salaries, fringe benefits, bonuses, etc., etc.

    The financial rape (and not just involving employee salaries, etc.) of the average citizen never ends and it won’t end until the people start doing their jobs and start holding the jaybirds accountable. But you have to know what the Sam Hill they are doing and not doing before you can hold them accountable and that calls for citizens doing their jobs by constantly being deeply involved in their city government and being fully informed.

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