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Retro Pay May be Denied to Former City Employees

Finance committee decides to forward the issue without a recommendation to council, but former employees who worked during 2012 may end up not getting retro pay after council's August decision for 2 percent increase

While the Common Council hadn't made a decision on a 2012 pay increase for city employees until August of this year, it may turn out that employees who worked during that time and have now left may be out of luck to receive back pay for the increase.

The Finance Committee met on Tuesday to discuss a request to provide the employees no longer with the city, but who had worked in 2012, with retro paychecks. The practice had been done in the past due to contractural agreements with union employees, but a memo to the committee from Mayor Kathy Chiaverotti admitted that these agreements no longer exist, with the exception of police employees.

In addition the memo stated "the labor attorney has been consulted and informs us that we are not legally obligated in this matter."

Police Chief Paul Geiszler spoke before the committee, urging them to consider the service some of these employees have provided to the city and in effect to do the right thing.

"We have three employees impacted by this, who retired with 98 years combined service, and it's my opinion that anybody who worked here whether they retired or left during 2012 is clearly entitled to back pay," he argued. "This is a fairness issue - because you didn't vote on back pay until they left shouldn't mean they are left out of consideration. Just because a legal opinion says you don't have to doesn't mean you shouldn't. It tells these employees you don't care about their service."

The committee had four options: reward all employees employed in 2012, including those who were terminated, quit or retired; reward only those employees not terminated or not exceeding probation; reward only retirees or reward no one leaving in 2012.

Alderman Dan Soltysiak said he would opt for the most restrictive option in granting no employee who left during 2012 the back pay, however Alderman Neil Borgman agreed with Geiszler in arguing fairness.

"I think it's only fair that they would receive the pay, whether they were terminated, quit or retired. This is just giving them what the would have made if we would have had our act together," Borgman said.

The Common Council will take up the matter at its Nov. 13 meeting for a final decision.

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