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City employee groups get first raise since 2009

City of Farmington staff will get a raise in 2012.

Last Wednesday, two of the city's three bargaining units - the AFSCME Clerical, Technical and Professional Unit and the AFSCME Maintenance Unit - voted to accept a 1 percent pay increase but took a decrease in the amount the city contributes to health insurance.

The city will reduce its insurance contribution by more than $200 for some single-coverage policies and by more than $170 for some plans that cover the employee plus family.

The 1 percent pay increase is the first raise given to employees of those two units since 2009. The 2009 raise was also offset by a furlough during the summer months, which decreased the number of hours each employee worked from 40 to 36 for several weeks.

In addition, the city's department directors will receive a .5 percent raise in 2012. This, too, is the first pay increase since 2009.

As part of this year's negotiations, the city had to enlist the services of mediator Steve Hoffmeyer of Minnesota's Bureau of Mediation Services.

Details on how merit pay and outstanding paid time off issues will be addressed are still up for discussion between the labor representatives and city management.

City administrator David McKnight said the city is considering shifting from giving vacation and sick hours to a paid time off system. With that shift could come a number of issues, including what the potential caps for paid time off would be.

A merit pay system has also been in place in the past, McKnight said, but was put aside a couple of years ago. Now, employees are interested in bringing the system back, but they also wanted to get contracts settled in a timely matter. Hoffmeyer suggested the merit pay and the PTO could be addressed in 2012, so as to not hold back the contract settlements.

"We didn't want to tie it up in negotiations," McKnight said, "so let's just sit down and talk about it after the first of the year. We need to work out the details. They're willing to sit down and so are we."

The terms of the contract are for one year, according to human resource specialist Brenda Wendlandt.

The third bargaining unit covers the Farmington police department.

Michelle Leonard

Michelle Leonard joined the Woodbury Bulletin staff in November, 2014, after 14 years covering news for the Bulletin's sister publication, the Farmington Rosemount Independent Town Pages.  Michelle earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Mass Communications: News-Editorial from Mankato State University in 1991. She is an active member of the American Legion Auxiliary Clifford Larson Unit 189 of Farmington, and served as the 2014-15 Third District President to the American Legion Auxiliary Department of Minnesota. Michelle is also the volunteer coordinator for the Minnesota Newspaper Museum which is open annually during the Minnesota State Fair. She has earned Minnesota Newspaper Association awards in Investigative Reporting, Local News Coverage, Feature Photography and Column Writing. 

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