Debbie Hickman
Special to The Gardner News
It was announced at the July 7 Gardner city council work session that approximately 30 employees shared $60,000 in merit increases that were effective in 2014.
These merit increases were based on performance review year 2013.  Per the current personnel policy employees who earned a category-three rating (2.76 or greater rating on a 3-point scale) were eligible to receive a merit increase to be added to their base salary. The merit increase was subject to review and approval by a review board consisting of the city administrator, administrative services manager and the employee’s department director. This policy does not address how the merit increases are calculated per employee.
The proposed 2015 budget will include an $80,000 allowance for merit increases. This represents a 33.3 percent increase over 2014.
The city council proposed a new two tier rating system. Based on a 5-point scale, employees achieving a 4.75 or greater rating would be eligible to receive the maximum increase and a 4.50 to 4.74 rating would be eligible for a merit increase of lesser than maximum value.  The council believes this will allow a broader pool of employees to earn a merit increase.  There was no discussion on how the merit increases would be calculated per tier or employee.
A cost of living allowance of 3 percent will be part of the 2015 proposed budget.