The Foley City Council voted to approve a resolution authorizing a cost of living adjustment (COLA) effective January 2022. The council approved an increase of 3.5 percent, the highest increase recommended by the city’s HR Department. The COLA is for all permanent part-time and full-time employees. The HR Department’s recommendation was brought forward after an analysis was conducted across the state, said Suzanne Kellam, payroll clerk with the city.

“This will be a salary plus benefits cost,” she said. “This will also adjust the pay ranges for our pay classification plan, therefore making this more competitive in the market. We do have some maxed-out employees, so this will allow our maxed-out employees to receive a raise.”

“Over the years we have gone through a performance-based system which we felt was a very appropriate way of doing that, and over the past 15 years we’ve basically been around 1 percent inflation so our performance-based merit raises have more than adjusted the salaries for the majority of our employees to keep up with inflation,” said Mayor Ralph Hellmich. “Well, the numbers we’re getting this year, whether you’re going to call it transitory or permanent inflation, it’s jumped up over 6 percent this year, so our way of doing business of keeping our pay ranges competitive and current are being stressed right now.”

A pay range study is scheduled to be performed in the year 2023, but Hellmich said he feels that is too long to wait in the current environment. According to Hellmich, if the council voted to perform the study sooner than planned, it would still take approximately a year to a year and a half before it was completed.

“Today, depending on performances, people can get anywhere from zero on up to 5 percent, but the problem is you’ve got an inflation at 6 percent and the best merit pay increase an employee can get is 5 percent,” said Mike Thompson, city administrator. “So you have somebody who’s really doing a great job and in this environment actually be losing purchasing power. That’s the idea is to do a COLA so employees aren’t losing purchasing power, because we have outstanding employees.”