The request to raise the wages of those employed at the Helper Western Mining and Railroad Museum during the October Helper City Council meeting raised many questions and debates on the wages of all Helper City employees. This prompted the members of the council to host a special work meeting on Oct. 15 to approach the topic of wages and possible increases for all that are employed by the city.
This meeting was hosted in the Helper Civic Auditorium with chairs socially distanced and face masks required. No more than 10 were present in the room at one time. Representatives of the police department and the museum were present during the meeting.
Mayor Lenise Peterman began by stating that the purpose of the work meeting was to focus on the 2021 budget that was accepted in June of 2020 to determine if it needed to be amended in order to possibly raise pay for the whole city as well as determining if things needed to be cut.
The mayor stressed that any decision or possibility would be presented at the next council meeting for public feedback and the work meeting hosted was simply a brainstorming session.
The council had previously requested positions, pay rates and previous rates, which Helper City Recorder Jona Skerl presented in a packet given to each council member. The previous increase, given across the board save the fire department and seasonal workers, was in 2017 and was a 3% raise. August 2013 saw the fire department’s last increase, which leaves the department seven years behind.
Revenues for the city come from property taxes, utilities, motor vehicle taxes, general sales takes and more. It was also stressed that when budgets are reviewed and approved, they are a projection of what funds they believe will come in based on matters such as historic performance.
Mayor Peterman made sure that all had a decent grasp on where revenue came from and how the budget was adopted before moving forward, stating that maybe a ballpark of annual wages should be gathered to determine if generating a raise for the workers was plausible.
Ideas in the forms of grants that could be received, numbers on what comes from the museum’s donation increase, bonuses rather than raises and more were discussed.
It was agreed by the council that there is not a single department that overspends and that those that have worked for the city for quite some time will receive the raises over seasonal workers, new hires, etc. Skerl agreed to review the funds and budget for three and six percent raises to see where the funds will be. Mayor Peterman also encouraged the council members to continue brainstorming ideas for the next council meeting.