If you work for the city of Muskego, the good news is that your wages will increase 2 percent retroactive to January 1 of this year.
However, a new resolution passed by the Common Council Tuesday night will also require higher contribution levels for benefits like health insurance and retirement, netting no gain in take home pay.
Employees currently paying into their health insurance will be asked to up the ante to 9 percent, up from about 6 percent, effective with their next paycheck. That increases to 10 percent in 2013. Those who hadn't participated before and want to join going forward will be asked to kick in 12 percent of their monthly premiums, and 13 percent in 2013.
Alderman Dan Soltysiak was the most vocal in questioning the increase for 2012, stating "I've heard nobody make a case for why any cost of living adjustment (COLA), let alone 2 percent is warranted at this time."
Mayor Kathy Chiaverotti explained that the state defines the increase. Labor attorney Jim Korom shed further light on the number, explaining that "the Department of Revenue has come up with a complicated methodology, and examines on a month-to-month basis changes in costs. It's a complex averaging system that was brought about since the (Gov. Scott) Walker reforms."
Korom went on to remind the council that in 2011, city employees and non-represented police supervisors took a cut in their total compensation of 3 to nearly 6 percent.
"At some point you'll reach a point where your better employees will begin to leave to work for other employers," Korom said. In addition, he pointed out that in light of the Tuesday night, some rank and file officers could start to make more with overtime than their supervisors.
The increase will impact 2012 wages, and the council may change how any further increases are determined as they look to the 2013 budget. Many on the council felt somewhat "painted into a corner" as the current practice is to budget for an increase, and then adopt an increase much later in the year, based on negotiations with employee unions. With the recent decrease in public employee unions that municipalities have to deal with, that practice could be different.
"If we don't want to give a COLA then going forward, we may want to consider not budgeting for it. However, in the end our employees are not making out like bandits," said Alderman Rob Glazier.