By Nick Worth
Salary tables for classified city workers was the main topic of discussion at Tuesday’s Holbrook City Council meeting.
Finance Director Randy Sullivan told the council because of proposed changes in the Holbrook Police Department (HPD), as well as the recent $4,000 raises for all city employees, he felt a revised salary plan should be brought to the council for approval.
The biggest change to the plan involved the additions of a patrol lieutenant and an office assistant/evidence clerk to the HPD.
The minimum salary for the patrol lieutenant is listed in the plan as $38,472, with a midpoint of $52,975 and a maximum of $67,478, but Sullivan noted that the HPD brings new officers onto the force at five percent below the midpoint and following a probationary period, the officers earn the midpoint salary.
City Manager Ray Alley said the minimum salary applies to all other city departments and workers.
Mayor Jeff Hill asked Alley why the minimum salary was left the same as the previous plan.
“It gives us more leeway,” Alley said. “New hires, right off the street, we’re not going to give them a big salary until they prove themselves.”
Alley said the proposed HPD position of office assistant/evidence clerk would fall under the current office assistant classification, which has a minimum salary of $18,341, a midpoint of $26,302 and a maximum of $34,263.
Vice Mayor Charles Haussman asked how employees receive salary increases.
Alley replied that salary increases were based on completion of training and certification received, but that some of the decisions were also subjective to some degree.
“What is the salary plan based on?” Haussman asked. He then asked the council if they needed to do a study.
Alley told the council the plan was based on information found on the website of the League of Cities and Towns.
City Clerk Cher Reyes told the council the previous salary plan was put together in 2002 by comparing other cities the size of Holbrook. She later told The Tribune-News the plan was made by the Public Sector Personnel Consultants Company, using salary data from cities such as Winslow, Payson and Gilbert, among others.
“We haven’t been able to follow it, though,” Reyes told the council, referring to the plan. She said because of budget constraints, the city has not been able to give the merit raises called for in the plan for several years.
“Are we competitive?” asked Councilman Myron Maxwell.
Sullivan replied that the proposed salary plan is competitive with other cities the size of Holbrook.
Both Hill and Councilman Wade Carlisle expressed dislike for the classification system with merit raises.
“That’s why we went with a dollar amount for raises, rather than a percentage,” said Alley, referring to the recent $4,000 across the board raises for city employees. He explained that with a percentage raise, a city employee making $30,000 would receive much less than another employee making $90,000. He also noted that the classification system is called for by the city personnel manuals.
“I’m trying to keep it fair and equitable for everybody,” Alley said.
Councilman Richard Peterson moved to accept the proposed salary plan.
“I believe it needs more study,” said Haussman.
“I agree with the vice mayor,” said Hill. “I’ll vote for it, but we can always put it back on the agenda and change it if we want.”
Carlisle said he would like to table the vote until the next meeting when the council could make an informed decision and have the data available from the League of Cities and Towns.
“I’d like to do it once, and have a comparison to go by,” Carlisle said.
Peterson reminded the council the salary plan is called for in the personnel manual.
“Passing this puts us into compliance with the code,” Peterson said.
“We have the ability to change it,” said Maxwell. “It won’t hurt us to have it in place.”
At Hill’s suggestion, Peterson amended his motion to approve the salary tables at this time, with further information to be provided by the city manager.
The motion passed 5-1, with Haussman casting the lone “nay” vote.
In other action Oct. 8, the council:
* Unanimously approved the addition of a patrol lieutenant to the HPD.
Chief Mark Jackson told the council the position would be the same as the current administration lieutenant with the exception that he changed the minimum requirements to read that candidates must have a minimum of 10 years law enforcement experience, currently be at the rank of sergeant, must reside in Holbrook and must have a current Arizona driver’s license.
Haussman asked what budget the money would come from for the position, and Alley said it would come from the police department budget.
“They’re currently down two officers and will not be able to hire replacements anytime soon,” Alley said. Those salaries will offset the cost of this position.”
* Approved the addition of an office assistant/evidence clerk to the HPD.
Alley told the council the position would also be financed out of the HPD budget.
“It will be a full-time/part-time position,” Alley said. “Initially, it will be full-time for up to a year, then will go to part-time.”
* Approved a $500 donation to the Elks Lodge to assist with the annual Halloween Spooktacular.
Cindy Allen asked the council for a donation of $300, but Haussman moved to grant the $500 amount.
“I appreciate the Elks Lodge,” Haussman said. He noted the event helps to keep young children off the streets.
“I agree,” said Hill. “A couple hundred dollars to help keep kids off the streets on Halloween goes a long way.”
* Heard the first reading of an ordinance to establish “Diamondback Drive,” a proposed road to the west of Lizard Lane on property currently owned by Ed Heward.
“If we include it in the city streets, we have to bring it up to code and maintain it,” said Carlisle.
“If we accept it, we have the burden of maintaining it,” Hill said. “On the other hand, Mr. Heward is giving up the rights to it and he does have a business there.”
Heward owns the Samson auto body and repair shop located on the proposed street.
The council will hold second reading of the ordinance at its next meeting.
* Passed a resolution concerning the proposed listing of the Mexican grey wolf and nonessential experimental population rule. The resolution came about as a result of a presentation made to the council by District III Navajo County Supervisor Sylvia Allen at the last council meeting.
Haussman questioned the need for the resolution.
“Do we have a wolf problem in Holbrook?” he asked.
“I haven’t seen any,” said Hill.
“I have to ask if we need a resolution to control wolves, or would we just be making a political statement?” Haussman asked.
Maxwell also spoke against the resolution.
“It’s ridiculous,” said. Maxwell. “Why do we have to deal with this?”
Carlisle referred to Allen’s presentation, which put the number of cattle killed by wolves in the last 10 years at 150 from one ranch.
“One hundred-fifty cattle killed in that period of time is not much,” Carlisle noted. He said instead of using license fees to promote better fishing and hunting opportunities, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is “sucking up all that money for projects like this.”
Carlisle then said domestic dogs, left unattended, are the worst predators of cattle and calves.
The resolution passed by a vote of 4-3.
* Heard a report from Reyes that the general plan review is being held at 5:15 p.m. on the first Thursday of every month.
* Heard a report from Alley that he has received a permit from the Arizona Department of Transportation to put in the proposed park on Navajo Blvd. on the mesa.
Alley said the park will feature a dog run and a kiosk with a city map that will show travelers exiting Interstate 40 that there is more to Holbrook than the area found at the top of the hill.
* Heard a report from Alley on paving projects.
He told the council the paving work on Fifth Street has been finished and that crews would soon finish Mendell Road near McLaws Road.
* Heard a report from Jackson that the policy and procedures manual training from Lexipol is almost complete, and that he would begin editing the Lexipol manual to suit the HPD’s needs as soon as he finished the training.
* Heard again from Cindy Allen, who expressed thanks to the police department for patrolling the Elks Lodge events. She also thanked Alley for his work on the lodge parking lot.
* Heard from Leo Maestas regarding a letter he gave to the council on Sept. 10.
“I feel like I’m beating a dead horse,” said Maestas. “I delivered a letter to each of you on Sept. 10. Since that time I’ve sat back and bit my tongue and watched.”
Maestas then said he had discovered criminal activity involving Alley.
At this point, Hill interrupted Maestas.
“I’m not going to allow you to make accusations against Manager Alley,” said Hill.
“I didn’t make accusations,” Maestas replied. “I have proof.”
“You just did make accusations,” Hill said. “You’re right on the edge here.” Hill then told Maestas to speak to the issue of the letter, or to get out of the council chambers.
“I just want you to read my letter,” Maestas concluded.
Hill assured him the council would read his letter and thanked him for speaking.
By Nick Worth