Raises for union employees and a new compensation plan for non-union employees were approved by the Decorah City Council Monday night.

Union employees will receive a 2.2 percent increase in salaries for fiscal year 2014, a 2.2 increase for FY 2015 and a 2 percent increase for FY 2016.

The Council also voted 6-1 in favor of a new compensation plan for supervisors and non-union personnel. Paul Wanless was the only Council member voting against it.

The plan combines a salary incentive program and performance evaluation process with the traditional cost of living adjustments the city has historically provided its non-union and administrative staff, according to City Manager Chad Bird.

The average of four consumer price indices (CPIS) will be used as a guiding principle in establishing the yearly cost-of-living increase, according to the compensation plan. For budgeting purposes, discussions on determining the cost of living increase will be held no later than Oct. 31 annually, and the compensation plan will be adjusted accordingly each year.

The plan states these figures, along with the applicable merit increase, will be used in determining personnel costs.


Under the new plan, the criteria for cost-of-living and merit increases includes minimum proficiency criteria including:

• Satisfactory or better composite or aggregate score on yearly performance evaluation.

• If applicable, demonstration of completion of evaluations for employees under his/her supervision.

• Documented completion of required training as mandated in individual job descriptions. This training is required to receive a satisfactory or better score on yearly personnel evaluation.

Under the new compensation plan, the city manager or city clerk will review all employee evaluations prior to the performance evaluation being conducted.

The plan establishes three proficiency levels:

• Level 1 - Does not meet minimum established proficiency criteria

• Level 2 - Meets minimum established proficiency criteria

• Level 3 - Receives an 80 percent (or other score indicator) or higher performance rating on evaluation (exceeds proficiency criteria).

Level 1

Employees failing to meet established minimum proficiency criteria will be ineligible for cost-of-living or merit increases. Any employee failing to meet minimum proficiency criteria two consecutive rating periods will be subject to corrective action up to and including termination.

Level 2

Employees meeting established minimum proficiency criteria will be eligible for an annual cost-of-living increase

Level 3

Employees receiving an 80 percent or higher composite or aggregate score performance rating on evaluation will receive the annual cost-of-living increase plus a merit increase as established on the compensation plan matrix. Merit increases will be an upward shift to the next available step at the pay grade.


The new compensation plan requires 16 hours of job-specific training for pay grades 1-6.

For pay grades 7-13, 16 hours of job- specific training are required, in addition to 16 hours of human- resource-specific training and attendance at employer-sponsored training specifically designed for performance reviews.


Wanless expressed concern about the salary matrix that's part of the compensation plan.

Although he said he was fine with the "concept" of the compensation plan, Wanless said he was concerned that any employees that meet the 80 percent rating would be receiving raises of about 5 percent.

Rachel Vagts, chair of the Council's personnel committee, said it depends on the position.

"It could be a 2.8 percent increase," she said.

Council member Julie Fischer noted the plan includes a clause that gives the city the right to suspend cost-of-living and/or merit increases due to "emergency situations or any time budgetary concerns or fund balances do not allow for pay increases."

Vagts said the city manager will review raises to make sure they are appropriate for the work being done by employees.

She said the plan is not a mandate, but a model that can be used at the Council's discretion. She said the Council could "scrap" the plan if it doesn't like how it's working.

Mayor Don Arendt said he appreciated the hard work of the study committee Vagts headed along with Council members Randy Schissel and Gary Rustad.

Vagts said Bird and City Clerk Wanda Hemesath did extensive research that helped the committee.

"It will be a good guideline. It's a tough area to have to work on. I think it will help," Arendt said.