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Hailey raises minimum city employee wages to $15 an hour

Downtown Hailey. File photo by Roland Lane.

Downtown Hailey. File photo by Roland Lane.

Hailey will raise the minimum wage for its city employees from $12 an hour to $15 an hour Oct. 1.

The city’s budget ordinance was passed Aug. 15. The budget included two provisions for employees concerning wages and benefits.

Hailey Mayor Fritz Haemmerle hopes the changes will end the trend of employees leaving their positions to take jobs in the private market or with nearby city agencies.

“During the downturn, we went through a period of four years where we were not able to give any salary increases while the towns around us were able to give small increases to adjust for the cost of living,” said Heather Dawson, Hailey city administrator. “Since the downturn, we have only been able to give nominal adjustments.”

The city has 56 permanent employees, but the raises will not affect the top earners. Instead, the biggest focus was on improving employee wages at the bottom and the middle of the pay scale where the city experienced the most turnover. The minimum starting salary for a city employee is now $15 dollars and the previous middle of the pay scale that was considered anything between $15 and $20 now pays between $17 and $25.

“This really was our mayor; these are his initiatives,” Dawson said. “It started after he learned about a custodian that had worked for the city for 20 years and was making just over $12 dollars an hour.”

The budget also set aside $60,000 to improve city employee health insurance benefits. The city will now pay 25 percent of the premium for dependents added to employee health plans.

The benefit was improved because city administration noticed many of the employees who were choosing to leave had families, Dawson said.

About Benton Alexander Smith

Benton Alexander Smith is a reporter for the Idaho Business Review, covering the Idaho Legislature, new business, technology and financial services.