Council equalizes employee wages, OKs

By Mary Zielinski (free-lance)
Posted 6/10/99

Explaining that wages for Kalona city employees “have been very near the bottom,” City Administrator Doug Morgan gave the council a recommendation Monday that raises wages by 7.6 percent. The …

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Council equalizes employee wages, OKs


Explaining that wages for Kalona city employees “have been very near the bottom,” City Administrator Doug Morgan gave the council a recommendation Monday that raises wages by 7.6 percent. The amount was suggested by the council’s finance committee.

However, the move will still leave the city $14,876 under-budget in that category, noted councilman Dave Droz. The budget for fiscal 1999-2000 contained a 4 percent increase for wages.

Morgan explained that a study of comparable municipalities showed that of 30, Kalona was 28, “pretty near the bottom.”

As a result, when it comes to hiring employees, the salary level is a drawback, Morgan noted. He also explained that offering a new employee higher wages without offering adjustment to long-time employees is unfair.

The council agreed, and wages for the city personnel, effective July 1, are city clerk (Karen Christner, with 20 years service) $26,577; wastewater treatment plant operator (Bob Christner, 10 years service) $24,551; laborer equipment operator (Ken Kempf, eight years) $21,320; parks and recreation director (Todd Fitzsenry, 4.5 years) $23,088; city administrator (Doug Morgan, 6 years), $41,970, and new employee Joe Sojka, $20,800.


The average salary for the above in comparable communities is $29,123 for city clerk; wasterwater/treatment operator, $29,120; laborer equipment operator, $27,090; parks and recreation director, $24,708.

A city administrator (not to be equated with a city manager) averages $45,000.

In approving the recommendation, the council noted that it is important to retain employees, especially as more and more training to operate sophisticated equipment is required.

In hiring Sojka, the council noted that he is interested in qualifying for the wastewater and water treatment certification and “with two years of college, he may receive some credit before starting the training,.” said Morgan.

He said “water certification takes about a year.”

He added that he and the council’s personnel committee believe “He is the best of the ten applicants we had.”

He officially joins the city lineup July 1.

Besides the full-time employees, the city regularly contracts for outside help.

Water tower

Dave Nelson of Garden & Associates of Oskaloosa, the city’s consulting engineer, outlined steps for a new water tower for the city.

Given the growth of the town and the continuing water pressure problems in the north residential areas, Nelson recommended a higher tower in the 200,000 gallons storage range.

In addition, it would aid with the city’s fire protection, as well as its insurance ratings.

While no exact location was noted, Nelson said he had two to three possible sites in mind, all north of Highway 22.

If all goes as anticipated, it would be a year to a year and one-half before the project would be done, Nelson noted.

Cost estimates for a new tower are in the $200,000 to $250,000 range.

Nelson said that the city could most likely obtain money through he State Revolving Fund that provides loans at some 2 percent below the market fee.

After further discussion about water pressure problems and the tower height (approximately 100 feet), the council authorized Nelson to undertake a feasibility study. Cost for the study is expected to be between $5,000-$6,000 and Nelson said he would have it ready in the fall.

“Then you can make decisions during the winter.”

In other business, the council:

•learned that the Washington County Sheriff’s Department will be enforcing the seat belt law. Sheriff Yale Jarvis stressed that using seat belts is still the best way to avoid serious injury.

•approved the leasing of a new street sweeper at a cost of $12,293.66 per year for five years. At the conclusion of the period the city may buy the unit for $l. The used unit has only 2,800 hours on it and is diesel operated.

•learned that Iowa City Cleanup Transfer has probably been sold to a large firm and that the city may have to re-examine its sanitation services and contractor. Tim Wolfe of Iowa City Cleanup & Transfer was expected to be present, but did not attend the meeting.

•learned that the city will look at a possible new sewer cleaner to be added to city equipment.

•set 7:30 p.m., June 21 to open bids for the city’s paving project.