Midway through the Port Lavaca City Council meeting, July 8, things heated up as the council discussed the proposed city’s compensation plan for the next fiscal year.

City Manager Bill DiLibero opened the agenda item by stating the compensation plan “really hasn’t changed.”

“The pay grades have been adjusted based on the salary survey based on the different communities,” DiLibero said.

Councilman Tim Dent questioned whether the old salary schedule approved last year was the basis for the compensation plan. DiLibero replied that it was a new plan based on the survey.

Councilwoman Rosie Padron interjected saying she had an issue with the proposed compensation plan.

“We worked really hard last year, and you (city manager) kind of just came in and swept it all away. We didn’t work hard for ourselves but for the employees,” Padron said.

In the proposed plan, the wage scales are tipped to one side Padron explained.

“You guys (administration), the scale is like this (Padron modeled a scale with her hands with the administration’s pay being the high hand and the other employees’ pay being the low hand),” Padron animated. “What we originally wanted to do was bring the scale more like this, more even, bringing the lower-income up, and that is not what happened here.”

DiLibero said what he tried to do was bring everybody up to 85% of the middle range of the survey. For example, the code enforcement officer would make approximately $33,084, compared to 2014’s rates, when the officer made a salary of $28,420 at 85% of the midrange, based off the document in the meeting packet; a 16.4% increase in five years.

Dent’s problem with the proposed plan is with the difficulty of tracking the numbers for comparison. He asked DiLibero why the change was made. DiLibero’s answer was the only thing that was changed was the range numbers.

Dent argued that it is easier to compare year-to-year, when the increase is based on dollar amount, i.e., increasing a salary from $32,000 to $34,000.

“That was what we had said before. Do not change your range; just your jobs to a range number. We asked twice to go back to that and twice it keeps coming back like this,” Dent said.

Councilman Jim Ward alluded to the way the city previously handled salary increases, and according to him, the turnover rate was “unbelievable.”

Padron reiterated that the proposed compensation plan was going back to the previous compensation plans.

“We are going back to what we had before, to where the supervisors get more money than the other employees,” Padron said.

DiLibero was not against bringing back the old range or compensation plan.

“What I am looking at is the survey and where people fall into the adjacent communities. That is what impacts them. They leave to an adjacent community that pays more,” DiLibero said.

After the back-and-forth conversation and debate, the council passed on the agenda item and will plan to have a workshop over the issue.