Dollar raise stirs debate

Ozaukee Press staff

Determining whether to give a $1 per-hour raise to the Village of Belgium’s administrative assistant sparked a larger discussion on pay on Monday.

In an apparent sign of the times, Village Treasurer Vickie Boehnlein said helping her daughter look for a job and seeing what rates companies are paying gave her the impetus to request a $1 raise for Sherri Erickson, from $15.24 to $16.24 per hour.

“We risk losing a really good employee because we aren’t paying her market wages right now,” Boehnlein said.

The raise was recommended by the Finance and Personnel Committee, and Village President Pete Anzia said he already received feedback about it.

“I have heard a little bit of complaining from every other employee of the village,” he said. “She wasn’t complaining about her pay, really. Now that these guys know she’s up for $1, they’re saying, ‘What about us?’”

Trustee Sarah Heisler said pay across the board needs to be examined before raises are given.

“How do we know that DPW (Department of Public Works) isn’t underpaid? We need to look at all the employees across the board. Is Fredonia paying more for DPW? Where are we with all our salaries?” she asked.

“I’m in a supervisory position at work now and if I give one person a raise, holy hell, I’m not walking back in that office without dodging bullets.”

Boehnlein said she is on board with examining all village employees’ pay and pointed out she is the lowest-paid treasurer in the state, according to a recent survey. But, she said, Random Lake posted an administrative assistant position with pay starting at $16 per hour, so the timing of Erickson’s raise may be in play.

Village employees have received annual raises for years. Anzia said that since 2014 the yearly raise has been 2%, and one year it was 3%.

Trustee Dan Wolff said Erickson could leave for more money “and we’re stuck in the same kind of position Fredonia had where they lost a good clerk.”

“Exactly,” Trustee Rose Sauers said, “and we may not be able to hire anybody.”

Trustee Roseann Geib said in that case “We’re going to have to raise the price anyway.”

Trustee Don Gotcher supported giving the $1 increase and then looking at the rest of the employees’ salaries.

Boehnlein said she was “frankly shocked” at the pushback to the proposed raise, saying as a supervisor it’s her job to retain staff.

The board approved the raise, 6-1. Heisler voted against.



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Ozaukee Press

Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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