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Ogden rescinds merit-pay ordinance

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OGDEN — The Ogden City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to rescind a pay-standard ordinance passed June 13.

Council members and the city administration have been the focus of sharp criticism because the ordinance made it more difficult for police officers and firefighters to receive merit pay increases.

To protest it, officers called in sick for two days with the "blue flu." Some people went so far as to rent a van and use it to display a sign critical of the "ticket quota" and Mayor Matthew Godfrey.

"This is definitely a positive step," said Sgt. Troy Burnet. "It sends a message to me as a police officer."

Retroactive as of July 1, officers will now only have to score a three out of five on their personal evaluations to qualify for a merit increase. Firefighters' pay increases also will no longer be tied to their evaluations.

"I think they did the right thing," said Dirk Youngberg, president of the Ogden Fire Fighters Local 1654. "I think this will send a message" to the city's administration.

Many agreed the ordinance didn't need to become so controversial.

"It's too bad we had to go to this point," said John Valdez, an attorney for the Utah Alliance of Government Employees, which represents all non-sworn-in city employees. "It didn't have to go this far."

For that reason, the council also passed a resolution to create an employee-negotiation review work group. The council will hire a mediator to help out with the process, said Chairman Jesse Garcia.

Only one dissenting vote was cast against the resolution. Councilman Doug Stephens thought the resolution needed more of an examination.

"What I was looking for was to get input from the administration and find some common ground," he said. "I hate to have a proposition with loose ends."

Other council members had more confidence in the resolution.

"I am so excited and happy," smiled Councilwoman Dorrene Jeske.

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