Council eyes raises for city employees


JASPER — City of Jasper employees could see a little more money on their paychecks in 2021.

Though nothing has been officially approved, an across-the-board payroll increase of 2% was favorably discussed during the Jasper Common Council’s annual budget hearings on Tuesday.

“I would like to come through with 2%,” Jasper Mayor Dean Vonderheide told council members ahead of the hearings. “And I say that because our people, we never took time off.”

He later added: “Our people picked it up. And the projects we had completed were important projects. We stayed at it.”

Total, the requested 2021 budget came into the day at about $19 million. Vonderheide had asked all department heads to try to cut their individual budgets by 10% of their 2020 amounts, and while not all of them hit that number, the total budget still entered the daylong hearings with a $200,000 cushion.

In addition to discussing wages, department leadership filed one-by-one into the Pfaffenweiler Room in the basement of Jasper City Hall over the course of a roughly nine-hour marathon to detail other purchases they’d either like to or feel they need to make next year. These included pieces of equipment, vehicles, projects and more.

On the topic of pay bumps, Vonderheide said he thinks city staff has done an outstanding job in adjusting to work changes during the pandemic. Councilman Paul Lorey also voiced support for raising the wages of city employees early in the meeting.

“They did a fantastic job,” said Lorey, a longtime Jasper Plan Commission member who joined the council after unseating Earl Schmitt, a two-term incumbent, in the 2019 election. “I felt like they really have earned whatever we can give them this year.”

If adopted, the 2% raise would apply to all full-time and part-time employees.

Higher raises for positions in one specific department were also discussed. Jasper Police Chief Nathan Schmitt requested all members of his force receive a total of 7% in raises — primarily to address gap time — and the council spent time throughout the day deliberating that request.

Again, though nothing was officially approved, council members settled Tuesday on giving all police officers total raises of 4%. As is always the case following these hearings, the budget is still not finalized — and won’t be until later this year.

A public hearing on the budget will be held at the council’s September meeting, and an adoption vote on the budget will take place at the council’s regular meeting in October.

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