City employees may get raise

City employees could get another raise next year, but will pay more for health insurance.

A 2 percent pay increase for full-time employees is included in the proposed 2018 budget, which goes to the city council for approval later this summer. Health insurance costs are increasing 10 percent.

The council moved in to budget season Monday with department heads outlining their spending plans for next year.

It’s the fifth time in six years raises would be granted to employees. The boost in salaries is made possible by reliable city revenue projections, said Mayor Todd Barton.

Raises are also key, the city says, for attracting and keeping employees.

“We’re continuing to fight the ongoing battle with retention in our police and fire departments,” Barton said, adding that salaries are part of the challenge.

The increase in health insurance comes as the city signs a new contract with provider Cigna.

“But that’s our first increase in quite a while, so we’re doing very well on the health insurance side,” Barton said.

Barton has met with each department head, balancing their wish lists with the amount the departments spent this year. Council members heard proposals from planning and community development, city legal, parks and recreation, police, the airport and redevelopment commission.

Planning and community development director Brandy Allen is asking for money to update the city’s zoning code, which have not been revised since 2009. The revisions are being spread across two budget years.

Allen said the updates would clear up loopholes and other discrepancies in the code.

Police chief Mike Norman is requesting $8,000 for K9 services and maintenance, which had relied on community donations. The donation fund was depleted with the addition of a second dog, Norman said.

The department also seeks funds for more training and equipment for SWAT negotiators and new radars and equipment for patrol vehicles.

The rest of the department heads will present their budgets at 6 p.m. Monday in the Municipal Building.