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Tidings file photoAshland City Hall on the Plaza.

Ashland city management raises now tied to cost of living

Upper level city employees will be on the same footing as those covered by agreements with five bargaining groups after the City Council approved a resolution on Tuesday saying the salary schedule for those positions will be adjusted annually on July 1, based on a cost of living index. The resolution also increased vacation time and adjusted sick leave calculation to make them consistent with what other employees get.

The changes affect about 60 employees categorized as management and “confidential” employees. The confidential term applies to employees who may help formulate management collective bargaining policies but, unlike salaried managers, are paid hourly and are subject to payment for overtime.

The changes are retroactive to July 1, the beginning of the fiscal year.

The management agreement hasn’t been updated since 2012, according to Interim City Administrator Adam Hanks.

“The intent of the (Consumer Price Index) is to provide some mechanism to tie back to the economy and the cost of living,” Tina Gray, human resource director, said. The resolution calls for compensation to be automatically updated annually in line with the CPI index, but changes will be brought before the council each year for approval or modification as needed.

The current recommendation for the cost of living raise is a 2.4 percent increase, which is approximately $4,500 above budget, which projected a 2 percent increase, but is an amount that can be absorbed due to current position vacancies, staff said.

“The management resolution has come to the council in various forms and it hasn’t been consistent over the years,” Gray said. “And so, what we were hoping to do is add some transparency and consistency in how we bring these issues forward to the council.”

Gray said there have been many changes since 2012, including numerous changes to the city’s healthcare, which aren’t reflected in the agreement.

“We have a situation now where if someone is moving into management, they get less time off,” Gray said. “People actually don’t pursue management opportunities because moving to that position would actually be a step down for them, and so we’re trying to bridge that gap.”

The previous vacation schedule called for unrepresented employees to earn from 13 days annually to start, topping off at 26 days after 24 years.

The new schedule starts with 15 vacation days, increasing to 18 days after four years, 21 days after nine years, 24 days after 14 years and topping off at 30 days after 19 years.

The number of holidays, 10, remained unchanged.

The updated compensation numbers use the CPI as a baseline, but Gray said that the recommended numbers were taken from comparing positions in surrounding towns such as Medford, Grants Pass and Klamath Falls.

Councilors Stephen Jensen and Stefani Seffinger both made similar comments, saying this is a necessary upgrade to retain good employees.

“It’s important for employees to feel valued and this is part of it,” Seffinger said.

Also at the Tuesday meeting, the second and final reading of an ordinance making revisions to the Accessory Residential Units (ARUs) ordinance won unanimous approval. It will streamline the approval process for ARUs that are less than 500 square feet in size and located within or attached to a single-family home. The alterations exempt these ARUs in the single-family zones from the planning application process and allows the property owner to obtain a building permit to convert existing floor space or construct an ARU attached to a home.

Contact Daily Tidings reporter Caitlin Fowlkes at cfowlkes@rosebudmedia.com or 541-776-4496. Follow her on Twitter @cfowlkes6.

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