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Commisson hears update on classification, compensation study for city employees

West Fargo City Commissioners heard an overview Monday night of a study presently underway that will update city employee job descriptions and compare the city’s salaries and benefits by benchmark jobs, to the appropriate marketplaces, based on actual job duty comparisons.

The $29,500 study was approved by the board in December.

Human Resource Director Carmen Schroeder said the last time the city conducted a similar review was in 1997. She added results from the study are expected by the end of April in time for the Commission’s consideration during 2014 budget talks.

Kaye Tilzer, a consultant with Public Sector Personnel, coordinated the presentation stating the study has already begun with questionaires distributed to all city employees asking that they supply the duties their jobs entail. Then individual meetings with the employees will follow to discuss their city roles, with this information intended to be used to create the job descriptions. She said another goal will be to make sure that each employee is in the most appropriate position.

In addition to updating each job description,Tilzer said she will be evaluating and comparing wages for similar jobs in a variety of North Dakota and Minnesota cities to see how they stack up. She said some jobs may be ahead of the market and others below, with a 5 percent range being looked at for eventual evaluation by the city commisison.

When asked, Schroeder said response to the questionaires has been very good by all city employees. She added that nothing has been promised to city staff regarding automatic pay hikes because of the study. “That is not what this is about, (it’s about) comparing it to market and looking at the whole package.

Tilzer agreed saying the market studies are not intended to result in across-the-board or automatic pay raises, but rather just identify any corrections needed to ensure consistent and fair pay practices.

Tilzer said studies of this nature should be completed every three to five years adding she intends to make sure that when her job is done in West Fargo the staff has the tools in place so they can complete the process themselves.

She added she will continue to l work with the city for a year to create job descriptions if other positions are needed.

Police Chief Arland Rasmussen also suggested including Cass and Clay counties among the other cities considered in the comparison area, because he said he competes with these two entities for officers.

Once the study is complete, Tilzer said she will report back to the commission.

The city currently has 110 employees on staff.

In other action, the commission:

-approved a resolution authorizing the issuance of improvement warrants and exchanging them for $15,900,000 in refunding improvement bonds of 2013, Series A accepting a low bid of 2.732 percent from Robert W. Baird on a 25-year bond issue. There were nine bidders for the issue. Mike Manstrom of Dougherty and company, Bismarck, who handles the sales, told hte board that this is the lowest rate the city has ever received, adding that it is the 25-year issue on the rate that “drives the phenomenal part.” The report also stated the city retained its Double A3 rating;

-okayed second reading for Ordinance No. 945 relating to door to door solicitations and first reading for Ordinance No. 946 relating to limitations on turning around. Language added to the latter states that no turn can be made at any mid-block location or at any signalized intersection in the city unless permitted by a sign posted by the city;

-following a public hearing at which no one provided comment, approved a Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) request from Dakota Commons-Southhill Properties, LLC for a senior living housing project, for seniors at least 55 years of age at 1577 10th Ave. E. The project which will include 30 one-level two bedroom units, each having an attached garage, is similar to other West Fargo projects completed by the LLC. Approving the request will result in sizable incentive benefits throughout the course of the PILOT. It was pointed out that completion of the project contingent upon the LLC receiving their Federal Tax Credit;

-approved a formal written policy for post-issuance debt compliance policy and procedures as they pertain to spending the city’s money appropriately. The city has been following the policy and decided it was time to adopt a written policy statement;

-approved first reading for two requests from Rusty Goose Development LLP : rezoning of Lot 7, Block 1 of South Pond at the Preserve 3rd Addition from agricultural to light commercial, for a 2.3 acre parcel, west of Veterans Blvd. and on the north side of 26th Ave. E., and rezoning of Lot 5, Block 3 of South Pond at the Preserve 6th Addition from agricultural to light commercial, for a 40,396 square foot parcel, west of Veterans Blvd. and on the north side of 32nd Ave. E. A public hearing and second reading will take place on both on Feb. 18 at 5:45 p.m.

-approved first reading of a request from Prairie Heights Church for a replat and rezoning from R-2 limited multiple dwellings to R-1 one and two family dwellings for a 17.12 acre parcel on the south side of 32nd Ave. E. and between 2nd St. E. and 4th St. E. A public hearing and second reading will take place on Feb. 18.

-awarded the contract for a rebid of Sewer, Water Storm Improvement District #1241 for Montgomery Homestead 1st Addition to Shermans LLC, WEst Fargo, with a low bid of $253,538.70. The engineer’s estimate was $277,000.

The next regularly scheduled meeting of the West Fargo City Commission will take place Monday, Feb. 18, at 5:30 p.m. in the Commission Chamber at West Fargo City Hall, 800 4th Ave. E. All meetings are open to the public.