The board of aldermen has taken a major step toward increasing starting wage rates for public works employees, adding a longevity payment plan for employees and increasing the amount the city pays toward health insurance.

The City of Lake Ozark understands the value of its employees and wants to reward them.

The board of aldermen has taken a major step toward increasing starting wage rates for public works employees, adding a longevity payment plan for employees and increasing the amount the city pays toward health insurance. The board of aldermen approved second reading of an ordinance putting those changes in place at its meeting Tuesday, Oct. 27.

The changes will become effective with the first pay period in January 2021.

City staff recommended the improvements in benefits to the board during a regular workshop in September. City Administrator Dave Van Dee said upgrading the pay plan is in response to suggestions from the board of aldermen that the city reward its employees and be more competitive with the job market in the lake area.

Proposed changes

The city’s starting wage for Public Works employees will increase from $10.66 an hour to $12.36 an hour.

Starting wage for dispatchers will increase to $12.88 an hour and police officers will start at $15.39 an hour.

Van Dee noted that 57.8 percent of city employees will be impacted by the pay plan increase, and the rest of staff is already in position to get raises of 3 percent on the anniversary date of their employment.

“I would love to pay more because they’re worth it, but we have to live within the budget,” Van Dee said.

The increases will be built into the 2021 budget which will be approved in December. The boost in the monthly insurance subsidy will begin Dec. 1 with the annual policy renewal.

Van Dee said making changes to the starting wage will impact other employees on staff and that has been addressed as well.

Longevity plan

City employees will be rewarded for staying with the city.

The new policy provides longevity pay for employees after the employee has completed five years of service. The pay will be disbursed monthly and will be in increments of five years, with $10 added for each five years of service.

An employee reaching five years would receive an additional $120 annually up to $600 annually for employees who remain with the city for 25 years.

Health Insurance

The city will also increase the amount it pays per month for health insurance from $460 to $500. That equates to a 91.88 percent city subsidy of an employee’s monthly health insurance cost, according to Van Dee.

Employees can elect to receive dependent, vision and dental coverage for a maximum of $500 per month as well. The employee can also elect to have any portion of the $500 to be credited to his or her on a monthly basis to apply to insurance obtained through another source as long as the alternate insurance policy meets or exceeds the city’s policy.

The city administrator expects an increase in health insurance premiums next year with employees incurring that additional cost.