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City approves staff raises

City staff members may be getting a raise in 2019.

The City Commission approved a compensation study at its Nov. 5 meeting that called for every city employee to get at least a 4.5 percent increase.

Jenna Wilm, director of Human Resources, said the city had a consulting firm study staff salaries earlier this year to find out if West Fargo offers salaries and benefits equal to other cities and the general market.

"We were struggling with recruiting and retention," Wilm said. "This allows us to be able to be more competitive when recruiting and retaining employees."

Wilm said job descriptions were updated and then current staff salaries and benefits were evaluated.

The new compensation plan will cost the city an additional $580,308 in 2019, which includes an increase of budgeted salaries for the library of $118,444 and increased fire salaries of $71,567.

Salaries for assessing, court, forestry, technology, planning and police will also increase.

Consultants recommended little change to the benefit costs. However, it did recommend the city add a retirement benefit plan for police and fire staff that would allow them to retire about 10 years earlier, with staff picking up the cost of the benefit on their own.

"You're all very skilled and capable people and the job market out there is one where highly skilled and capable people can go out and find other jobs," Mayor Bernie Dardis said to the many city staff in attendance at the City Commission meeting on Monday, Nov. 5. "What I'm trying to say is I'm very glad you are here."

Moving forward, Wilm said the city would evaluate its job descriptions each year and look at pay amounts every three to five years.

"If we can fix the issues every couple of years, we shouldn't have to worry about doing such a large study," Wilm said.

Wendy Reuer

Wendy reports for The Forum and West Fargo Pioneer, where she is also assistant editor. A University of Minnesota Morris graduate from North Dakota, Wendy started her career in television news and entertainment in Minnesota and at CBS in Television City, Calif. before working at newspapers in Minnesota and North Dakota. 

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