The Plaza Level Conference Room at the Melvin Municipal Office Building filled up quickly last Thursday for the Greensboro City Council’s first August work session.
All nine council members were present along with city staffers and media.
The first part of the work session focused largely on a policy proposal to increase wages for many city employees.
The main objective of the plan was to secure benefits within the “Green Zone” for more part-time and full-time city employees, which means to pay employees a wage at current market rates.
This proposal caused some confusion with some city council members who did not know whether the plan included bonuses and benefits in the compensation structure (it did not).
Other members felt that the proposal, which included $10 and $12 minimum wages for all employees— with the exception of sworn and seasonal workers— did not go far enough.
“I’m going to be adamant about by 2020 [with] $15 an hour. How do we get there? Incrementally over the next five years,” said Councilman Jamal Fox.
Assistant City Manager Mary Vigue, who presented the policy proposal, insisted that determining a livable minimum was based on a myriad of factors, so it would be hard to determine. She also stressed the issue of preventing salary compression, which occurs when employees receive pay that is very close in range regardless of experience or skill sets.
“If you move the crew member and not the supervisor, we’ve now just created that compression, so we are looking at that whole range,” said Vigue.
The range she is talking about is a salary range where the majority of city employees fall.
Vigue went on to say that the proposal would best be implemented on an ongoing basis rather than as a part of some timed plan.
Mike Barber suggested that they start implementing wage increases by Oct. 1.
However, Vigue insisted that such an institutional change would take more time.
“Not from a systems perspective,” Vigue said about getting the proposal underway by Barber’s date.
Preceding this policy proposal was a topic that met with much less discussion.
The Greensboro skate park, which has been under discussion for multiple years, will start construction in winter of 2015, pending any unforeseen circumstances.
The plan for the park emphasized the use of local designers and builders, and the use of either Latham Park or Glenwood Recreational Center locations, which pleased a few of the members.
“I think this is great. I can remember pushing it many moons ago. And I’m just happy. I think it was an excellent report, sort of out-of-the-box, which is fine; you know, some really creative thinking, so I hope we’ll go on with this,” said Councilwoman Yvonne Johnson.
Barber insisted on a specific date to break ground, which he suggested should be Dec. 15. The skate park will be the first public, open-air skating facility in Greensboro.
Other members had minor concerns about safety or preventing undesirable activity. They were reassured that most of the concerns could be put to rest with proper signage.
Another topic on the agenda was the issue of forming a participatory budget steering committee.
The committee idea was introduced and will be discussed in further detail at the next work session on Aug. 25.