City Council discusses salary raises, health plans for police

Fort+Collins+City+Council+in+session+Sept.+21.+The+City+Council+heard+from+community+members+and+moved+forward+with+a+variety+of+ordinances+impacting+Poudre+School+District%2C+local+marijuana+codes%2C+infrastructure+and+other+aspects+of+the+City.++%28Ryan+Schmidt+%7C+The+Collegian%29

Fort Collins City Council in session Sept. 21. The City Council heard from community members and moved forward with a variety of ordinances impacting Poudre School District, local marijuana codes, infrastructure and other aspects of the City. (Ryan Schmidt | The Collegian)

Austria Cohn, News Reporter

Fort Collins City Council met Dec. 7, for a council meeting primarily focused on raises for City employees as well as the experience of several council members as they recently visited intensive care units. 

The discussion items included a collective bargaining agreement for the Colorado Fraternal Order of Police and setting the salaries for the chief judge, City attorney and City manager. 

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Councilmember Tricia Canonico for District 3, among other council members, recently visited the UCHealth Poudre Valley Hospital ICU, where all the beds were taken. 

“It was very sobering,” Canonico said. “100% of the patients in the ICU right now are unvaccinated.” 

Canonico said everyone was receiving excellent care and that those who are sick and in need of care shouldn’t be afraid of going to the hospital.

Mayor Jeni Arndt also shared that there have been incidents of hospital employees facing harassment in the community when they have gone out to restaurants after work. 

“I just think anywhere we see that sort of treatment for anyone in our community that we need to band together and help stamp it out,” Arndt said. 

The first item discussed was approving a bargaining agreement with Northern Colorado Lodge No. 3 of the FOP. 

One of the main changes is to replace the $4,000 annual retiree medical stipend from the previous contract with a new, tenure-based payment structure that awards payments to a post-employment health plan, according to the council agenda.

The plan, which would be a three-year term expected to cost the City about $2.2 million, would award bonuses to the health plan as employees pass relevant anniversaries, awarding $5,000 for the 10-year mark, $7,500 for the 15-year mark, $12,000 for the 20-year mark and $15,000 for the 25-plus-year mark, according to the agenda.

For employees that have passed relevant anniversaries, there will be a one-time “catch-up” award that is also structured based on their tenure. The resolution covers 219 sworn officers and 44 civilian dispatch and community service officer positions, according to the agenda.

The vote came to 6-1, with Councilmember Kelly Ohlson of District 5 against. 

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“The cost is pretty significant to me,” Ohlson said. “(What) really trips me up is the two-class system of City employees, and other City employees won’t get this advantage.” 

“I understand the high up-front costs and the ongoing costs, but we have a medical system that doesn’t support us,” Mayor Pro Tem Emily Francis said. “And so this is a gap that we need to fix.” 

The rest of the discussion focused on the salaries for the chief judge, City attorney and City manager.

The council voted on a 4% salary raise for chief judge Jill Hueser, and it passed unanimously, increasing the pay from $165,000 to $171,600.

“Her work has just been extremely impressive for the short time that she’s been here,” said Councilmember Susan Gutowsky, District 1. “She’s made some pretty dramatic changes and has a lot of other things in mind, I think, that will make us a cutting-edge municipality.”

City Attorney Carrie Daggett was given a raise of 3% from $206,090 to $212,273, which also passed 7-0.

Canonico said the raise was important because Daggett did not receive one last year due to the pandemic’s effects on the City budget.

“Carrie (Daggett) has been here through COVID(-19); she’s a long, longtime employee,” Canonico said. “I would like to see her fairly compensated for having missed that year’s increase.”

The last item was discussing the interim City manager position, which is held by Kelly DiMartino. The vote to keep the position’s salary the same, which is $231,573, was unanimously voted on 7-0.

“We recently did settle on the agreement for the inner City manager role, and the interim isn’t over,” Arndt said. “That is very awkward because that is not based on performance or any other indicator of our appreciation except for … the agreement council had just very recently made for that role.”

The full video and voting results from this council meeting are on the City website.

Reach Austria Cohn at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @AustriaCohn.