Cape's pay plan

Cape Girardeau city employees will finally get a pay increase after years of doing without. The city council approved a revised pay plan last week that will take effect in January.

Under the plan, public safety employees will receive an average pay raise of 13.4 percent, while all other city employees will get about a 7.8 percent increase on average.

The difference has rankled some veteran city employees who say the plan didn't adequately reward longtime employees in the police or fire departments. Residents also have expressed concern about utility-fee increases that will help fund the raises.

In all, the city will spend an additional $1.3 million next year to compensate its employees. A fire sales tax will cover $558,250 of that cost. The remainder will come from general revenue funds through the increased fees for sewer and trash pick up.

When the city pitched the fire sales tax increase to pay for public safety needs, residents were told the goal was to raise salaries to make city pay competitive in the job market. It took three years of convincing before voters approved the sales-tax plan.

A consulting firm helped establish the parameters of the pay plan, which council members revised to take into account resident and employee concerns.

The mayor and council agree that the plan isn't ideal, but it does take a significant step in the right direction. The new plan recognizes the longevity of city employees and makes the city much more competitive in the overall job market.