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OREM RESIDENTS PROTEST PLAN TO INCREASE CITY SALARIES

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On the second page of Orem's 1990-91 budget it says, "We give people their money's worth - and then some," but some residents don't agree.

Several are upset over the salaries of city employees, especially the executive management staff. Residents voiced opposition to the salaries during the final public hearing on the budget, and a newspaper advertisement criticized the salaries of several top Orem officials, which range from $45,000 to $75,000 annually.The city uses the Hays salary system to determine the salaries of city employees. Hays Associates determines the salary range of each city position by making a salary comparison with similar-size cities and with a comparable job in private industry. The city then sets the salary range at 95 percent of what Hays recommends.

With this year's Hays recommendations the recently approved budget includes about a $480,000 increase for salaries, an average raise of 4.6 percent this year.

But some residents say city employees should not be getting a raise during a time the city had to raise taxes and fees to pay for other city needs. They said that rather than raise taxes, the city should use the money going toward the salary increases.

At the public hearing, a Hays official said the latest survey shows Orem employees making an average 10 percent less than employees from other similar-size cities in the Intermountain area.

However, Orem resident Jan Clark said she conducted a similar survey and found that Orem employees make 10 percent more. She said Utah County households make 15 percent less than other Intermountain households and city salaries should reflect that.

"Is it fair for citizens who make a lower-than-average income to support a government that makes a higher-than-average income?" Clark said.

"I never would have thought that being in private business that I would rather be in public service," said Randy Park.

Councilman Kelvin Clayton somewhat agreed with the citizens. He said using the Hays system is similar to tying salaries to the Consumer Price Index, something the council decided not to do with utility rates.

But most city officials disagree with the criticism and say residents are getting a bargain.

"What the statistics show is that we're not being paid as much as the average citizen," said Phil Goodrich, director of administrative services.

Goodrich said a 1988 report by the Utah State Tax Commission lists the average salary of an Orem resident at $27,131. He said the average salary of an Orem City employee in 1988 was $25,350, and with salary raises the past two years, city employees are getting closer to the salaries of others.

Goodrich said the city's population has increased by more than 20,000 during the past 10 years, but the city has 13 fewer employees. He said the city has consolidated services in several areas and some city employees are doing what two employees do in other cities.

Goodrich said he believes the criticism comes because people believe those who work for government should make less than those in private business. But he said Orem is similar to a $30 million corporation and residents should keep that in mind when making salary comparisons. He said Orem's salaries are comparable with those of most Wasatch Front corporations.

"You walk into the private sector and show me a chief executive officer who only makes $75,000 a year. People say that government is different, but how is it different? This city is run just like a business, these are not elected officials we are talking about." he said.

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(Additional information)

City workers' pay

Monthly salary ranges for city employees:

City manager $4,937 - 7,406

Public works director 3,905 - 5,857

City attorney 3,651 - 5,477

Recreation director 3,345 - 5,018

Police lieutenant 2,417 - 3,625

Librarian 2,093 - 3,139

City recorder 2,003 - 3,005

Building inspector 1,812 - 2,718

Dispatcher 1,458 - 2,187

Secretary 1,293 - 1,940