By MARY RAINWATER
The Palestine City Council on Monday OK’d a budget amendment that would move up the effective date of a previously adopted pay increase for its employees.
Presented to the council by City Manager Mike Ohrt, the budget amendment of $22,814 for fiscal year 2012-13 funds a 1.5 percent pay increase for non-civil service employees.
While the council originally approved the raises to go into effect on each employee’s anniversary date, the matter was not properly communicated to the staff — many of whom thought the raises were effective on Oct. 1.
“Staff asked us to analyze the financial impact of moving up the pay increase,” Ohrt reported. “After running the numbers, we determined it would cost about $22,814 across all funds to have the raises effective Oct. 15.”
Ohrt reported that the amendment would leave the general fund with a deficit, but because the city was in good financial standing, that amount could easily be absorbed.
Council members Will Brule and Therell Thomas vividly recalled the council approving the raises to be effective on the employee anniversary date, questioning why the amendment and change was necessary.
“I am concerned about what seems to be an impression of miscommunication,” Brule said. “I felt we pointed out quite clearly that it would be on the employees’ anniversary date.”
Thomas, who seconded the motion to adopt the amendment, said he also remembered the council’s decision, and reported being OK with moving up the date for all employees.
“I also felt that it was communicated clearly,” Ohrt said, “and I was surprised too, to hear that it wasn’t.”
The council approved the amendment with a 5-1 vote, with Brule casting the lone opposing vote. Council member Vickey Chivers was not in attendance.
Also on Monday, the council:
• APPROVED an amendment to Section 14046 of the City Ordinance Code regarding the vaccination of animals. Changes to the ordinance require vaccinated animals to wear a rabies tag at all times.
• APPROVED a resolution approving a finance contract with Government Capital Corporation for the purpose of procuring various essential equipment.
• APPROVED a resolution setting public hearings for the proposed annexation of Elmwood Court, located in the Fort Houston area, for 5:30 p.m. Nov. 26 and 5:30 p.m. Dec. 10.
• HEARD the annual Delinquent Tax Report, presented by Robert Myers of McCreary, Veselka, Bragg & Allen.
• HEARD a report on vaccination information from Russell Hopkins of the Northeast Texas Public Heath District in Tyler.
• HEARD an update on attendance, upcoming activities and future development at the Texas State Railroad.
• OPENED bids for Sodium Hypochlorite 12.5 percent — bleach.
• APPROVED board reappointments and appointments.
Mary Rainwater may be reached via e-mail at email@example.com