Pay adjustments on Augusta commission agenda

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Competing motions involving Augusta employees’ pay go before the mayor and Augusta Commission at their regular meeting today.

Fresh from two Monday explorations into “public-private partnerships” – one with Ripken Baseball Group promoters seeking a new Augusta GreenJackets stadium, the other in Sandy Springs, Ga., where a government of six people oversees all city services – Augusta officials today return to the business of perceived pay inequities among the city’s 2,700 employees.

On the commission’s agenda is a recommendation made during a recent meeting of the Pension and Audit Committee to adjust a handful of employee raises that an internal audit showed was miscalculated or beyond the scope that City Administrator Fred Russell is authorized to give.

The 44 raises, awarded to certain department workers whose duties were increased during a government reorganization, sparked a public outcry and a call by Commissioners Alvin Mason and Bill Lockett for Russell’s termination.

The audit found only that a few of the 44 were miscalculated by about $12 a year, another went over the limit in taking a part-time janitor’s hourly rate to $10, while another, the recipient of which was not specified, received “10 percent above the new pay grade, which was higher than 15 percent of the current salary.”

Also up for discussion are Russell’s recommendation that employees be granted a temporary 6 percent raise for the final five 2011 pay periods. The temporary raise will make up for the last of five 2011 furlough days, being taken from employee salaries in the form of a 1.88 percent bimonthly deduction, which Russell said the city has enough of a 2010 surplus to omit.

Neither the stadium issue nor privatization of city functions appears on today’s 5 p.m. meeting agenda. However, two other agenda items will likely affect the city’s bottom line.

The first tasks Russell and general counsel Andrew MacKenzie with reviewing the legality of the city’s award of a bid to R.W. Allen LLC to serve as “construction manager at-risk” for the second phase of construction – a prisoner intake area – of the Charles B. Webster Detention Center.

Commissioners called for the review after a Friday court order in another case involving Augusta’s procurement department prohibits the city from awarding another construction manager at-risk bid for a $20.8 million remodeling job at Augusta-Richmond County Municipal Building. The court order said the award ignored the bid process required by law.

The second item is a report requested by Commissioner Matt Aitken on the cost to the city of delays to the remodeling job caused by the lawsuit and court order. The report, assembled by MacKenzie, shows the city losing as much as $1.7 million in additional rental payments for city and contractor offices and increased construction costs if the project is delayed a year.


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