About five employees at the city of Hays will be better off sticking with the city’s existing pay plan rather than choosing a new one adopted by the Hays City Commission at their regular meeting Thursday evening at City Hall, 1507 Main St.

The new pay plan for the city’s 181 full-time positions starts with the first payroll of 2019. It gives employees the chance to make more money — but they have to give up paid time off in return.

The plan was to create a long-term, desirable, sustainable pay package for city employees, said Erin Giebler, director of Human Resources.

“Prior to this, pay increases were sporadic with no consistency,” Giebler told the commissioners.

The new plan starts with the first payroll of 2019. The 2019 budget includes the new salary plan. Implementing it will cost $353,605 above what was budgeted for 2018, with $212,866 of it out of general fund dollars, Giebler said.

Future years will cost about $200,000, with $130,000 of it being general fund dollars.

“It seems like we have a plan going forward. It’s not just year-to-year. It’s something sustainable for future commissioners and for the community,” said Commissioner Shaun Musil. “I appreciate all the work you’ve done and everybody who worked on it.”

The new plan is open to all employees, with the exception of City Manager Toby Dougherty, who would stand to gain, but said he wouldn’t opt in.

“City Manager will go based on your contract,” Giebler said.

The new plan resolves a problem created when the city transitioned previously to paid time off from days off designated specifically for vacation, sick leave and funeral leave, said City Commissioner Henry Schwaller IV.

“It was crazy. It was a difficult transition from that to paid time off, or PTO. One of the unintended consequences of that was that we gave too much paid time off. And so we had to fund that,” Schwaller said. “What this does is it converts that to dollars and we just fund that as we go, rather than having an unfunded liability going forward. I like that. And appreciate the work.”

The plan was developed by a committee of 15 employee volunteers who started meeting in mid-2017. The committee looked at different kinds of pay plans and ranked benefits by importance. They also conducted and reviewed an in-house pay and benefit survey.

They came up with a plan that includes two choices, a Red Plan, which maintains current benefits, and a Blue Plan. The choice amounts to either more paid time off on the Red Plan, or more money on the Blue Plan but fewer benefits.

The Blue Plan is automatic for new employees starting Jan. 1, 2019. To make it affordable, paid-time-off accruals are lower, and the longevity bonus is capped at 4 percent, instead of 7 percent on the Red Plan. That savings helps fund the Blue Plan.

“I do see most of them taking the Blue Plan,” Giebler said. “But there will be a few that will choose the Red Plan. The Red Plan is better for those who have been here so long that by the positions being changed, may be capped-out, and they still get their 7 percent longevity. There are five of those people who I would tell them ‘Don’t choose the Blue Plan because it’s not going to be beneficial to you.’ Most of them are close to retirement.”

Based on a wage survey and market demands, some positions will see their wages, position titles and skill-based promotion possibilities updated, Giebler said. On either plan, employees get a two percent raise each year on their hiring anniversary month.

With the Red Plan, current employees can keep their benefits and their pay the same. The starting wage and maximum wage is about 6 percent lower than the Blue Plan. Current employees get a one-time chance to elect the Red Plan.

Lowering paid-time-off accruals doesn’t deliver immediate cost savings, but it does add work time, equivalent to about 3.5 full time employees.

Employees will enter the Red or Blue plan at the closest wage and title step without going backwards. To encourage the Blue Plan, those who choose it get two additional steps, she said.

To maintain the pay plan, employees on both plans move up one step each year on their anniversary month. Cost of living adjustments will be provided when necessary and position, pay and titles will be updated as required, based on the market.

In other business, the city commission:

• Recognized some new employees. They are Grady Keith, firefighter; Schuyler Augustine, dispatcher; Joe Monroe, maintenance worker I; and Trevor Willemsen, Brad Tebo and Mackenzie Smith, police officers.

• Recognized promotions for Ryan Hagans to fire chief; and Lance Koerner, to plant operator II.

• Approved the purchase of three new Model 520 Peterbilt trucks with the New Way Sidewinder Packer Body for trash trucks for the Solid Waste Department from Doonan Peterbilt, Hays, for $673,076.

• Approved a contract with Pro-Pipe for light cleaning and video inspection of the city’s sewer lines at a cast of no more than $150,000, and a manhole rehabilitation contract with Utility Maintenance Contractors for not more than $60,000.

• Approved the appointment of Tony Dopita,Hays, with RANS designs Inc., to a three-year term on the Airport Advisory Committee.

• Received the mayor’s recommendation of Shelley Bryant to the Hays Public Library Board.