Please Vote "No" on the Spearfish Pay Raise
Dear Spearfish City Council:
We are writing as concerned citizens of Spearfish and respectfully ask that you vote “no” on the proposed 3% pay raise for city employees. We do not support the proposal for several reasons, which we’ve outlined below.
- Local taxpayers and businesses are experiencing the pain at the pump and the financial squeeze from inflation cited in the pay raise proposal. And yet, those of us in the private sector do not have the luxury of dipping into public funds to offset these costs. We fail to understand why the city would issue taxpayer-funded raises to public employees while the private sector struggles.
- In 2021 the city approved what was effectively a 10% pay raise, which added ~$590,000 in payroll expenses to the city budget. The new proposal adds another ~$443,000 in annualized payroll expenses. This kind of payroll growth is excessive and unnecessary, and would be inconceivable in the private sector. It’s also worth noting that city employees have a robust benefits package, eleven paid holidays, and up to 30 days (240 hours) of Paid Time Off. We are not aware of a locally-owned business with benefits remotely comparable.
- Some of the highest paid workers in Lawrence County are city employees (e.g. the City Administrator, the Public Safety Director, and the City Attorney). The proposal (as we read it) recommends that highly compensated department heads receive raises just the same as entry-level staff and CDL Drivers. This seems unnecessary and excessive.
- Numerous businesses are going through layoffs and many local residents are facing the prospect of reduced hours, pay cuts or unemployment. Again - it’s difficult to comprehend why the city would issue raises to government workers while segments of the private sector downsize.
The City Administrator’s report projects a $1.8M surplus in sales tax revenue, which he suggests could be used to fund the city pay raise. As an alternative, we’d ask that the city consider reducing the sales tax or examine ways the surplus could be returned or invested in locally owned businesses. The unfortunate reality is that if our economic climate worsens, some Main Street employers may be forced to close, and we would applaud any steps Spearfish takes to prevent this outcome.
Thank you for serving our community and considering our input.