Aside from bringing down trees and inundating some low-lying neighborhoods, Tuesday’s rainstorm also had another, less obvious repercussion for municipal staff members in Elon.
On the night of the storm, Elon’s town council had been scheduled to vote on a proposed mid-year pay raise that would’ve added 5 percent to the wages of everyone on the municipality’s payroll. Had the increase been approved that evening, the town’s staff members would’ve been able to reap the rewards as soon as February 2 – the date when they pocket their wages for the second pay period in January.
Tuesday’s storm nevertheless put the kibosh on that evening’s council meeting – and with it, the council’s decision on the staff’s proposed pay raise.
According to Elon’s town manager Richard Roedner, the council will now take the matter up at its next regularly-scheduled gathering on January 22. Roedner conceded that the two-week delay in this vote will also postpone the implementation of the proposed raises – unless, that is, the council opts to enact the hikes retroactively to cover the pay period that’s already in progress when they meet later this month.
The idea of a mid-year pay increase was initially broached with some urgency by Elon’s mayor Emily Sharpe when the town council gathered together on December 12.
Sharpe declared at the time that recent wage hikes in some neighboring communities could end up luring away Elon’s firefighters and police officers if the council doesn’t act fast to address the imbalance.
A week later, the council unanimously approved a package of year-end bonuses worth a lump sum of $2,000 for each full-time staff member and $1,000 apiece for 18 part-time employees. In the meantime, the council instructed the town’s administrators to work up a plan for a mid-year pay raise that could be enacted much sooner.
A proposal for these mid-year pay raises ultimately appeared in the agenda packet for this Tuesday’s regularly-scheduled council meeting. Under this proposal, every full-timer on Elon’s payroll would receive a 5 percent bump in their wages. At the same time, the town’s pay grades would also be adjusted upward by the same margin in order to confer the same increase on future members of the town’s staff.
According to the town’s administrators, these raises would cost the town’s general fund an extra $125,092 in the current financial cycle and siphon off an additional $13,634 from Elon’s standalone water and sewer fund.
Had these raises been approved by the council on Tuesday, they could’ve been implemented as soon as January 15 – and would’ve shown up in the pay checks that staff members will get on February 2.
Despite the cancelation of Tuesday’s council meeting, Roedner insisted that the town’s elected leaders are still eager to address the proposed pay increase at the next available opportunity.
“It will be on the agenda on the 22nd,” he added. “But part of what the council will have to figure out is whether it wants to go backward [with the implementation of the proposed raises] or do it from the next pay period.”
Roedner conceded that it would be relatively straightforward to enact the raises during the two-week pay period that begins on January 29. He added, however, that the council may very well choose to stick to the original plan, which called for the increase to take effect on January 15 – and for the staff to benefit from the bounty on the first Friday in February.
“If we do it from the 15th,” he nevertheless admitted, “we’ll have to do it retroactively, and that could be complicated.”