Lander council reviews staff salary structure due to high property prices and inflation

The Lander city council wants to review the salaries of city hall staff in order to make municipal salaries more competitive.

The conversation originated during a work session last week, when the board considered a modified pay structure for Treasurer Charri Lara’s staff.


Lander’s current salary structure has gotten a bit “off” because the city hasn’t changed its starting salary rates to reflect cost-of-living adjustments that existing employees have received in recent years. Lara said.

The situation is exacerbated by the local housing market, Lander Police Department Chief Scott Peters added.

Just recently, Peters recalls, a Casper resident applied for a position at the LPD, then decided not to pursue the job due to high real estate prices.

“It was going to cost him dearly – he would go in the hole coming here,” Peters said. “We have that dynamic in play.”

He compared it to the situation that has unfolded over the past decade in Jackson, where many officers now live outside the city limits.

These out-of-town officers don’t have as many “direct interests” in the city, Peters said.

“If we don’t try to get ahead now, before we know it…we’re going to have a police force that lives in Pavillion or Hudson or Riverton,” Peters said. “I would rather they lived here.”

“Work to survive”

The starting salary for police officers was set at $46,500 in Lara’s salary structure included in last week’s board filing.

Peters suggested the number should be $50,000 instead.

The LPD currently has six employees who earn less than that amount, Peters said — and nine employees who work part-time just “to make a living.”

“(They) are literally working to survive, because the cost of inflation has gone up so much,” Peters said.

Council member Julia Stuble said she was “really disturbed” to hear that so many local officers were working part-time to make ends meet.

“I don’t want them to feel the economic pressure to do this,” she said. “I want them to go home and be able to be with their families and sleep. … Our police forces (can) do their job better when they are rested.

She asked Peters what kind of pay adjustments might be needed to fix the problem, and he offered to develop a pay scale with built-in pay increases based on years of experience.

“(That way) they know where they’re going,” Peters said. “They know…they won’t be at $50,000 in five years.”

A system like this could help retain employees, he said, pointing out that big cities have started to “poach” officers from smaller towns – usually after the small town has paid for training and certification. of the agent.

“If we don’t become competitive, it will cost more to train a new person,” Peters said. “In my opinion, it’s better to pay (our agents) where we don’t fear losing them – or being in poverty where they have to work two jobs.”

Lander Mayor Monte Richardson said it may be appropriate to consider similar citywide structural wage adjustments.

“We can’t limit ourselves to one sector, we have to look at the whole city,” he said.

Other board members agreed, asking staff to prepare a salary list for consideration at an upcoming meeting.

“Let’s make it a priority for the year ahead,” council member Missy White said.

William M. Mayer