The Wildwood commission has voted against offering $300 holiday bonuses for city employees.
City Manager Jason McHugh asked the commission for guidance on the issue during a meeting Monday morning. For at least the past five years, he said about $60,000 has been set aside in the city budget to be awarded as bonuses for around 200 employees. A 2-3 vote ended that new tradition with the promise to revisit the subject next budget year.
“I honestly can see no reason why we should carry on and give another Christmas bonus when we’re treating the employees right,” said Commissioner Joe Elliot.
Elliot argued that having completed salary surveys this year and having looked at other areas, the city of Wildwood has committed itself to adequate salary treatment for its employees. This has been done by implementing a yearly cost-of-living increase in pay and having a performance evaluation system that financially recognizes fantastic performance.
Mayor Ed Wolf agreed with Elliot on the grounds that they made significant adjustments to salaries after the analysis. Still, he acknowledged that he wished there was a way to fairly break out the bonuses and help those on the salary schedule that needed it, such as entry level employees with families.
“It’s one of those things that we start doing and then we’re going to be the bad guys when we pull it back,” said Wolf.
Commissioner Marcos Flores echoed these sentiments, saying that they all wanted to take care of their employees. But he urged the commission to look at the issue as a whole from a financial angle as the city raises water utility rates by 20 percent and takes on other projects.
“When is it going to stop?” asked Flores. “We’re growing as a city. It’s just going to cost more.”
Commissioners Julian Green and Pamala Harrison-Bivens maintained a different position. Because the money had already been budgeted, they motioned that the bonuses should still be awarded this year even if a discussion were to be had next year to re-evaluate due to the cost of utilities and projects.
“I’d rather for it to stay the same with everyone knowing that this could be the last time, or it may not be the last time,” said Green.
Bivens said that while she agreed with Elliot that the employees were being paid pretty good, not all employees were making the same because of pay scale. She believed there would be those that missed the bonuses.
“I think that recognizing our employees for a job well done and just beings as it’s Christmas and the spirit of Christmas, that $300, at least this year because we budgeted it, we could do that,” said Bivens.