From his first meeting with the Meridian City Council in July, Mayor Percy Bland pledged to seek higher pay rates for city employees who are making minimum wage or just above it.
Bland said to be able to recruit and maintain the people the city needs, employees must be able to make a living wage.
As budget plans get under way, Bland is of the same mind, but a pay increase is one thing that the head of city departments need not expect. He has already adjusted some department head salaries and he left some salaries unchanged.
"Their salaries are comparable to past salaries," Bland said. "They came in knowing and understanding that there won't be any increases in salaries for four years."
Asked if that included any across-the-board raises approved by the City Council, Bland repeated that department heads will not get a salary increase for the next four years.
In addition, he has not filled the job held by Kirk Thompson, former assistant to Mayor Cheri Barry.
"I'm looking at it, but it won't be that position," Bland said.
Bland did fill a job that had long been vacant, hiring Bunky Partridge as director of homeland security. Partridge had held the job prior to Cheri Barry's administration.
Previous department heads such as fire chief, CFO, Parks and Recreation, were retained by Bland at their existing salaries.
Some department heads are in interim roles, such as CAO Curt Goldacker, Parks and Recreation Director Mark Naylor, and Public Works Director Hugh Smith.
Naylor, along with Fire Chief Anthony Clayton and CFO Ed Skipper were all already department heads and were reappointed by Bland.
Police Chief James Lee, Smith, Goldacker, Partridge, along with Community Development Director John McClure are recent appointees.
As for the pay increases for some, Bland said it is necessary.
"Some of those guys have managed between 180 and 200 people," Bland said. "We've got to be competitive to get those people in key positions. We expect things out of the people in these roles. We can't talk about recruiting and retainment without talking about salaries. That's what we are trying to do."
A question has also been raised about whether Bland has a police officer working as his driver and or as a bodyguard.
"I have a person at City Hall that they have had at City Hall before," Bland said. "He has more of a role than that. This person serves in multiple roles. When we have events sometimes we have him transport us, especially if we are going to be talking and planning. This person is still a sworn police officer and acts as a police officer. I don't have a personal assistant."
Salaries of City of Meridian Department Heads
Department Prior to change Current
CAO $81,616 $81,616
Community Dev. $76,504 $86,000
Parks and Rec. $77,652 $77,652
Public Works $89,668 $85,000
Police Chief $75,000 $85,000
Fire Chief $77,652 $77,652
Homeland Sec. (previously unfilled) $85,000
C.Clerk/CFO $92,404 $92,404
Mayor $80,000 $80,000
Source: City of Meridian