- Paris Flash
- Real Estate
By CHARLES RICHARDS
City manager John Godwin told the Paris City Council he has decided on the “35 or 45” employees who will share in the $40,461 in merit raises that are budgeted in the 2012-2013 fiscal year that goes into effect on Monday.
His proposed budget for the 2012-2013 fiscal year, which the Paris City Council approved on Monday, includes $27,296 out of the General Fund and $13,165 out of the Utilities Fund for “certain select employees based on actual performance.”In the past, raises to city employees have been across the board, but Godwin told the council early in his tenure as city manager, which began on May 23, that he favors merit raises.
At the request of District 3 councilman John Wright, a discussion about the merit raises and how the city manager decides who gets them, was placed as an agenda item for Monday’s meeting.
Wright and Mayor AJ Hashmi said they agree with merit raises but would prefer to recognize publicly the employees to get the raises.
“I’d like to know who the people are who get the merit raises, and I’d like to recognize them in council meetings as to who they are, and the good job they have done,” the mayor said.
Wright said: “We have some fantastic city employees, and I think merit raises are good. … The more people you have who get merit raises, and other employees can look at them and see what they do and emulate them, the better workforce you’re going to have.”
After discussion, the council agreed to give Godwin leeway to keep it a private matter between the city and the employee getting the raise.
District 5 councilman Matt Frierson said he is “all for model behavior and higher performance. That’s great. But boy, day to day, wouldn’t you perceive there being an issue with that individual not wanting for it to be made known?”
Frierson added: “There’s a real downside there, the interaction with their fellow employees.”
Godwin said he has mixed feelings about it.
“On one hand, I agree with the idea that, ‘Gee, we’ve got 35 or 45 people that we think are our top 20 percent of our employees, and so yes, let’s brag about them and take their picture,” he said.
“But in real life, some of those people would be horrified to get called out,” Godwin said, because they’ll say when they go to work the next morning employees who don’t get the raise ‘are going to throw stuff at me or call me names or say I’ve been sucking up to the city manager.’
“And then some of the employees who don’t get the raise – keep in mind if we give raises to about 20 percent of the people, it doesn’t mean that the 80 percent who aren’t getting the raises are bad, they’re just not in the top 20 percent,” Godwin said.
When you publicize the 20 percent, you’re telling everyone that the other 80 percent didn’t get the raise, “and it’s like it was a contest, and they (the 80 percent) lost. I’m not saying they should feel that way, but that’s human nature, so I worry about that,” the manager added.
“I’ve already written a note – from me, not just a written memo –to those getting the raises, and as much as possible I like to go see those people and shake their hands personally,” Godwin said during Monday’s meeting of the Paris City Council.
“Given a choice, I’d prefer to do it that way, and any of you are welcome to come with me. But maybe not do it in front of everybody. I made that mistake once when I was a teacher. I would tell students who made an A on a test. And I had people who came to me and said ‘Would you please quit doing that because after class they are going to beat me up.’
“I worry about that middle group. Most of our employees are good people, and I don’t want to hurt their feelings,” Godwin said.
At that point, Hashmi said it should be the city manager’s prerogative to say who gets the raises, “and if you feel it should not be announced publicly, I will support it.”
Hashmi said he would like to go with the city manager when he makes the rounds to inform those employees and congratulate them.
Godwin thanked the council for approving his request for the merit raises.
“That’s not something any of them are taking for granted, and if you guys don’t agree, they won’t get it. I’ll shake their hands, and they’ll thank me, but you’re the ones actually setting aside the money,” Godwin said.
Wright asked the manager what criteria he used to decide who gets the raises.
“Especially since I’ve been here only four months, and I don’t know 300 employees personally, this first time around I’ve depended on supervisors’ opinions in some cases,” Godwin replied.
The manager said he asked supervisors to name the 20 percent of their staff who are really dependable, really hard working, “the kind of people you don’t want to lose, the kind of people you want to reward.”
The problem with that, Godwin said, “can be you have a supervisor that just gives me his two buddies in the crew every year, and that makes it worse than if you just give across-the-board raises. And I’ve worked places that can happen if you’re not careful. So we need to get more sophisticated in that. I haven’t been able to yet because of my relative newness.”
Not in every case did he accept the supervisor’s recommendation, the manager said.
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