The Cody City Council currently seems to be wrestling with the same problem private industry has been struggling with for years ... how to retain good employees when it is increasingly difficult to find money to pay them.
Facing a $4.7 million budget shortfall, council members last Tuesday discussed whether to use reserve funds or add further cuts in services to make employee raises possible.
No decision was made and no cost-of-living or merit-pay increases for city employees are included in the city’s fiscal year 2020-21 budget.
The city council supports putting an initiative on this year’s general election ballot asking for a fifth-penny sales and use tax, but that extra revenue is still a long way from being certain.
City administrator Barry Cook said he favors some kind of financial support for city employees, but advised caution especially before Park County voters are probably going to be asked for an additional penny sales tax.
A 2% cost of living increase for six months would add an additional $58,000 to the deficit. And that is without any merit-pay increases.
Private industry has had to deal with the problem of retaining good employees and being able to pay enough to hire others for years.
How much do you need to raise the price of a hamburger to give your employees a 2% raise?
Can you make cuts in the services you offer and still keep customers coming so you can give raises?
Do the employees you retain need to be more efficient so you can give them a cost-of-living increase?
The city is now having to come to grips with issues private enterprise has been living with for years.
We don’t know if Park County voters will tax themselves an additional penny sales tax or not. We hope they will.
However, the city and the county must demonstrate fiscal restraint and responsibility when they ask voters for the extra penny.