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Hallock Council debates employees’ cost of living adjustment increases

By Anna Jauhola
The Hallock City Council stalled on a decision Monday, Dec. 5 on how much of a cost of living adjustment (COLA) to give employees in 2023.
During the regular meeting, City Clerk/ Administrator Aimee Sugden shared the increased costs of health insurance and inflation rates, plus COLA increases given in the last handful of years. She said health insurance alone is going up $40 per paycheck for employees and inflation rates are still at more than 7 percent. She gave the council sheets that broke down increases by percentage and dollar amounts.
Councilor Kevin Waller said he felt a COLA increase is done by a percentage rate, and dollar amounts are typically given as raises. Sugden said a dollar amount would even out the pay scale between employees on the high end of the step system and those on the lower end.
“The percentage versus dollar amount right now, when they’re at the top of the pay scale, that percentage is inflating a lot faster than when you’re at the lower end of the pay scale,” Sugden said. “For the dollar amount, everyone would go up 50 cents per hour, for example. Versus a percentage where one person gets 70 cents per hour and another $1.70 per hour. It brings that back end up a little bit because that top end is high.”
In 2022, the council approved a 3.5 percent COLA and adjusted the medical insurance to be 30 percent paid by employees, and 70 percent paid by the city.
Sugden said she and the budget committee worked 10 percent COLA increase into the budget for 2023.

Read the rest of the story in the Dec. 14, 2022, edition of the Kittson County Enterprise.

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