GILLETTE, Wyo. — City staff affected by record-high inflationary pressures could see some relief with the Gillette City Council looking to approve a 5% cost of living adjustment next fiscal year.
The adjustment, if approved in the Fiscal Year 2023-2024 budget, would follow a record increase in the Consumer Price Index that reportedly rose by 7.9% from February 2021 to February 2022, the largest year over year increase since 1981, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
City Administrator Hyun Kim told the council during the first of two special budget meetings this year that the increase is based on what the city can defend in the future, however, he also acknowledged the adjustment is not enough in the face 40-year high inflation figures affecting not only government employees but every resident in Gillette and Campbell County.
The adjustment does not apply to members of the council, who on May 9 declined to ponder an opportunity to give themselves a raise. Council members have had the same pay scale since 1998.
City Council members are currently paid an annual salary of $6,000, while the salary for the mayor is $18,000 per year, according to the Wyoming Association of Municipalities.
The only comment offered on the topic of potential council raises came from City Councilman Tim Carsrud, who voiced a fleeting idea that giving the council a raise could act as an incentive to encourage more members of the public to run for office in future election cycles.
City staff raises come on the cusp of a staffing reduction moving into the next fiscal year attained through turnover, retirements, and promotions, not termination, Kim said.
With that, he continued, the city will be looking to add positions in its utility and maintenance departments, customer service departments, and the local animal shelter.
Moving forward, Kim said, the city will be looking towards efficiencies, ways in which they can pay their employees more to take on more duties moving into the next fiscal year.
“I’m proud to say that these employees will continue to do more tomorrow than they are doing today,” Kim said. “I plan on, when we can afford to, compensating them for that.”