Aspen city employees likely to get 2 percent wage hike

Aspen Times staff report
Aspen, CO, Colorado

ASPEN – A majority of Aspen City Council members on Tuesday expressed support for a 2 percent cost-of-living increase for all municipal workers.

Mayor Mick Ireland, along with Councilmen Torre and Derek Johnson, argued for the 2 percent wage hike, saying it could aid greater retention of valuable employees. Councilmen Steve Skadron and Adam Frisch favored a more conservative 1.5 percent increase given the uncertainty in the national economy.

“We want our people motivated and we want to keep them around in the future,” Johnson said at Tuesday’s work session.

The increase likely will go into effect in August, with the council officially voting on the matter when they take up the next supplement to the 2011 budget in September or October, according to R. Barry Crook, assistant city manager.

Crook said city wages and salaries were frozen in February 2009 following the start of the economic downturn in late 2008. Earlier in 2008, a majority of city workers received some type of pay increase. Therefore, it’s been about three years since city workers have had cost-of-living or merit increases.

Torre said the city next needs to address the wide discrepancies in pay between relatively new workers and those who have been around for many years.

“There are some employees who are paid well and [they are] happy and there are others who are truly struggling,” he said.

A 1.5 percent increase in pay would have amounted to $120,000 from August until the end of the year. The 2 percent increase will total $160,000.

At a future meeting, council members plan to discuss the possibility of merit increases of up to 4 percent for deserving city workers in 2012.