The Williams City Council has agreed to spread some of its anticipated good financial fortune to its employees.
The council voted 5-0 on Aug. 15 to bump salaries and contribute additional money to their union employees’ benefit package in an unprecedented four-year contract.
City Administrator Frank Kennedy said the new contract reflects the city’s belief that the future is brighter than the current state of finances, although the current state of finances is relatively good, thanks to a booming economy.
“We think that with new revenues coming in the future that it would be appropriate to help – or share those good fortunes with employees.”
The Local No. 1 employee group is comprised largely of non-police and non-administrative personnel like office clerks, sewer plant operators, and maintenance workers.
Kennedy said they represented themselves during negotiations, and did not use a union official to negotiate the new contract.
“We have great employees here in Williams,” said. “Negotiations went very smoothly.”
The new salary structure gives city employees a 2 percent salary increase, retroactive to July 1, 2018; a 2.5 salary increase effective July 1, 2019; a 3 percent salary increase July 1, 2020; and a 4 percent salary increase effective July 1, 2021.
In addition, the city will contribute an additional $100 to the city’s health, dental, and vision package, effective Jan. 1, 2019; again in 2021; an a $50 increase to the Cash-in-Lieu amount, effective Jan. 1, 2021.
Retroactive to July 1, 2018, the city will contribute $100 per monthper employee in matching funds for each participating in a city-sponsored deferred compensation programs. The city will increase that amount to $150 per month, effective July 1, 2020.
Confidential employees, such as administrators, will receive a pay raise of $150 a month, and effective July 1, 2020 the in-Lieu of health benefit rebate will be $800 or half the total allowable.
Williams has had several new businesses come to town that generate sale taxes for the city, including Arco and Dollar General. The new Love’s Travel Center is well underway, and a new Grocery Outlet is in the early development stage.
The new Canna-Hub, which will generate revenue through developer agreements, should have full build out in five to 10 years, Kennedy said.
Williams City Councilman Robert Mendoza said the city’s employees deserved the pay raise, and added that the city would have had to increase the salaries as California’s minimum wage goes up.
The California minimum wage, however, is intended to be a base minimum for unskilled, part-time, or starting level positions, not as adjustments for public employees, state officials said when they approved the phase in scheduel. The statewide minimum wage is currently $11 an hour for employers of 26 employees or $22,880 a year, and will increase $1 a year until it reaches $15 an hour by 2023 ($31,200 a year), after which it could be adjusted up to 3.5 percent annually based on the Consumer Price Index.
Although city workers will not see the same dramatic increase as minimum wage workers under thier new contract, roughly $4,000 each year over a period of five years, public employees already make well above both the state minimum wage and the annual median household income for the city of Williams, currently $32,042, according to census data.
A maintenance worker under the new contract, for example, starts at approximately $36,000 a year, plus $20,000 a year in benefits, with increases up to $39,000 plus benefits by 2021. A water operator currently starts at about $44,000 plus benefits; an administrative clerk starts at $43,000 plus benefits; an office assistant starts at $30,000 a year.
According to the 2010 census income data, about 15.5 percent of Williams families and 19.2 percent of the population live below the poverty line; meaning revenue-generating businesses like Dollar General and Arco have been good for both the citizens and the local economy, and that Grocery Outlet will be a big plus for the community at large, officials said.