A lengthy discussion on wage equity at last Tuesday's Price River Water Improvement District meeting will be continued Thursday at 4 p.m. at a special session of the board of trustees.
At the last PRWID meeting, board member Mike Dalpiaz recommended taking savings from unfilled positions and splitting it up among the six wasterwater employees.
Dalpiaz contended that, without the extra help, the existing pool of employees are required to take on more responsibilities.
"There is $3 an hour in surplus money and we can divide it up and give the employees a 50 cent an hour increase," said the PRWID board member and Helper mayor.
Dalpiaz' suggestion kicked off a conversation about wage fairness and equity for all PRIWID employees.
Board member Richard Tatton said that, if the district were going to do something for one department, PRWID should be trying to do something for everybody.
The discussion went from the immediate surplus to a review of all of the district's wage scales.
Vice chairman Karl Houskeeper said there were inequities in wage levels for several employees whose certifications and qualifications would likely put them in a higher pay scale.
Dalpiaz agreed that the whole pay structure needed to be reviewed but thought that something could still be done with the existing surplus.
"We have the money in wastewater now," said Dalpiaz.
However, trustees were moved to take a more a comprehensive look at the wages as they relate to the upcoming budget process.
Jeffrey Richens, assistant water improvement district manager, had a draft of the proposed wage scales for the trustees' review.
"I brought this for you to look and mark up," said Richens, showing the board members the document.
According to Richens, the wage proposal is a starting point from where all employees can be "rolled up to where they should be."
Guido Rachiele, district clerk, brought the subject home for Carbon County residents.
"The figures (of wage changes) needs to be brought to Kaye Cripps (the district's secretary/treasurer) so she can see how much of an increase in water fees it will require."
As the discussion unfolded, the complexities of making wage changes emerged.
Tatton questioned whether wage adjustments would impact other parts of the budget, such as equipment purchases.
"If we do this, are we sacrificing say a new pickup truck for wages?" asked Tatton.
Dalpiaz responded that a similar situation happens in every year's budget process.
"I don't think we can avoid talking about - what I think is a swear word here - raising fees," said Dalpiaz.
As issue after issue arose, including current surpluses in other departments, the growing consensus at the last PRWID meeting was that the board needed to take the discussion out of the general session and have a dedicated workshop to review wages.
District manager Philip Palmer assured trustees that it would be relatively quick and easy to pull all the information together for their review.
After a bit more discussion, the trustees decided they would gather at a special meeting to do the review and come up with more of a consensus.
The PRWID board of trustees meets today at 4 p.m. at the district office, 265 South Fairgrounds Road.
For additional information on the meeting, residents may contact Richens at 637-6350.