considers boosting city employees' hourly wage
By Molly Farmer
February 6, 2006 | NEWTON -- Steps to improve the community
through increasing city workers wages and initiating
more community involvement activities were some of the
topics discussed at the Town Council meeting Thursday
"We need to pay for what we're getting," Mayor Clair
The majority of city employees earn $7 an hour, and
after discussing the current budget, a tentative decision
to increase their wages to $8 was made. It will be listed
on the agenda for the March meeting where it will be
officially decided upon.
The issue was raised after audience member Judge Dennis
Barker requested that Court Clerk Jenny Richards get
an increase in pay. He said he'd like to see her get
paid $9 to $9.50 an hour. He said about $5,000 has been
invested in training her so far.
"I don't want to lose her," Barker said during the
citizen's remarks portion of the meeting.
Christiansen said he and the council would consider
raising her pay specifically and appreciated the comment.
"I don't want them to feel like we're ripping anyone
off," he said.
The council also discussed ways to improve community
togetherness and reaching out to surrounding towns.
Christiansen said 100 years ago everyone in the area
was unified, then a line was drawn through the area
and the people fought to stay together. Years later
they fought to stay separate, and now they just don't
do much together. He said they have fun together at
the 24th of July celebration and he would like to see
more functions like that.
"It wouldn't kill us if we got together two more times
a year," Christiansen said.
He suggested implementing activities like a picnic
in the park in the spring and fall where local community
members could put on a talent show with the city providing
The council needs to be more aggressive about things
like little league soccer and men's softball, Christiansen
said, in order to keep people together. He said the
focus of the council should be on long-term goals that
will move the town along instead of devoting all their
time and money on specific ordinances.
"Your budget tells you what you think is important,"
The council also discussed implementing prayer in
their monthly meetings. Christiansen asked if it was
a good idea to begin Town Council meetings with prayer,
and Councilman Jed Woodward said they "might as well."
"It might keep some civility to it," Councilman Ken
The council decided to put a section on the agenda
called "opening ceremonies," at which time a person
notified in advance can offer a prayer. Christiansen
said he would like to encourage people of all faiths
to give the prayer as he would like to see as much diversity
The date of the next Town Council meeting was moved
to March 9 instead of the scheduled 7th as Christiansen
said he will be out of town.