“In our city, we didn’t have the money to fund the health benefit increase, so we had to pass that on to our employees,” said Syracuse Mayor Jamie Nagle. She added employees have already lost their 401ks and some have taken decreases in salaries, but they still have the same amount of work.
Nagle wasn’t the only Wasatch Front Regional Council member concerned with the proposed raises, causing WFRC executive director Chuck Chappell to tell council members that he had surveyed a number of cities along the Wasatch Front and found that while they weren’t giving COLA increases, some were including merit raises. He had budgeted a 5 percent employee raise, which would include increased health insurance costs, as well a merit increases of 2 percent.
North Salt Lake Mayor Len Arave said that employees in private industry have had to cut back on raises and pay increased costs for benefits. “At some point the public sector is going to have to deal with this.”
The budget, $3.4 million in 2011 and $3.2 million in 2012, passed with the cost-of-living and merit pay restrictions. The decrease in 2012 is mainly due to fewer federal grants.