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.