After a debate about how to fund it, League City City Council on Sept. 27 granted raises to 347 city employees.

The raises will cost the city $1.13 million plus approximately $134,000 after City Council approved further raises of $3 per hour for emergency medical services and telecommunication employees. Under City Council’s direction, City Manager John Baumgartner will have to cut $134,000 from the FY 2022-23 budget, which City Council approved Sept. 13, to fund the additional raises.

The raises come after a salary survey that concluded after the FY 2022-23 budgeting process wrapped up. Evergreen Solutions surveyed comparable cities to obtain pay benchmark data, and city staff accepted most of Evergreen’s recommended pay raises to bring League City in line with comparable cities, according to a memo to City Council.

“These recommendations led to an 8.5% increase to the midpoints of the majority of pay grades, tapering down as the pay grades increased past the $82,000 midpoint,” the memo reads.

Additionally, the city’s starting pay grade was brought up to $15 an hour.

Evergreen advised a starting rate of $21.82 per hour for EMS. City staff used that to reform the EMS pay grade chart, resulting in a $3.43 increase to hourly minimums, according to the memo.

Telecommunication staff dropped significantly after the salary survey began. The starting pay for telecommunication staff was raised to $23 an hour, and an additional $0.50 oer hour will be added when telecommunication staff obtains certifications and completes their probationary period.

Council Member Hank Dugie recommended increasing the hourly pay for EMS and telecommunication employees an additional $3 beyond the recommendations. These departments have seen significant turnover and been slightly below average in pay, and if League City leadership wants to have the best employees, increasing their pay is a way to get that, Dugie said.

“I don’t think we can afford to lose anymore EMS, and I don’t think we can afford to lose anymore telecommunicators,” Mayor Pat Hallisey said in support of Dugie’s idea.

Council Member Nick Long said he supports raising pay for employees as recommended in the memo but does not want to give the additional increases to EMS and telecommunication employees. The extra $3 per hour is “arbitrary,” and the matter should be studied more to come up with a fair figure, he said.

“Let’s make it equitable to all employees,” Long said of giving extra raises to just one set of employees. “It’s unfair.”

Council Member Chad Tressler agreed with Dugie and the mayor.

“The fact is we ask our staff to do more with less, and we’ve done that for a long time with our telecommunicators and our EMS,” he said.

Baumgartner pointed out raising EMS and telecommunication employees’ pay above what is outlined in the memo would cost about $134,000. That money would need to either come from somewhere else in the FY 2022-23 budget or be pulled from the city’s reserve fund, which has three extra days’ worth of money, or about $750,000, over what is required by policy, he said.

Some council members rejected the idea of using the reserve funds for perpetual costs. Eventually, City Council voted to approve the raises, including the additional raises for EMS and telecommunication employees, and for Baumgartner to find money in the budget to trim to afford to additional $134,000 cost.

The vote passed 7-1 with Council Member Larry Millican opposed. Millican said he would prefer to postpone the item to get more clarity.

In other business

League City City Council on Sept. 27 also approved the fiscal year 2022-23 tax rate.

The rate is $0.415526 per $100 valuation. The owner of a $300,000 home will pay $1,246.58 in property taxes to the city.

The rate is $0.005361 lower than the new no-new-revenue tax rate of $0.420887. The no-new-revenue rate is the rate by which the city would collect about the same amount of taxes in FY 2022-23 as it did in FY 2021-22.