Editorial: Raises indicate city values its employees
Government and money? We actually had good news this week on that controversial milieu.
The Prescott City Council on Tuesday voted unanimously to give municipal employees a salary raise. That's big news considering there have been no raises for five years.
This hasn't been a case of employees simply grumbling about low pay. This neglect of workers has had measurably negative results for our city.
Records show that an above-average number of city employees left their jobs in recent years to find better opportunities. And it hasn't been your typical turnover. It's been a very specific trend. The percentage of employees leaving for other jobs rather than for retirement has skyrocketed. The top reason cited: lack of raises.
A memo from Human Resources Director Mary Jacobsen noted that workers did not see the city "as valuing employees by not prioritizing pay as a way to keep productive and loyal employees."
There's certainly a cost at risk. The rehiring and retraining process costs money each time an employee leaves.
We also learned a few days ago that the Trader Joe's developer paid off its lease/purchase agreement with this city - to the tune of $2 million - about 18 years early. A company kept up its end of a bargain. It's clear that it was time for the city to keep up its end of the bargain with its internal customers, our employees.
When the numbers show that valuable public employees are leaving their posts for the reality that they simply can't afford to pay their own bills and support their families, our public priorities are not what they should be.
We're glad that the city is, for a moment, paying less attention to business subsidies and more attention to what truly drives the city in its best possible direction - the people. A city whose own employees cannot make a living and spend money in our local economy is about as backward as it gets.
It's critical to focus on employees, a constructive working environment, and providing livable wages to the folks who work long hours for the good of the community.
Giving raises after five years is definitely a good start.