Gilbert’s proposed budget indicates the town will break the 1,000-employee mark by mid-2006.
And if dealing with paying a record number of employees wasn’t enough, the Town Council has been advised that a 6 percent pay increase is needed to stay competitive with neighboring municipalities.
The growing town expects to add about 80 new positions in fiscal year 2006, with public safety taking priority in hiring. Twenty-two of the new positions are budgeted for the police department, and 37 for the fire department.
If the council approves the budget as written, the police department would grow from 276 employees to 298. The fire department would increase from 122.5 full-time employees to 159.5.
The council could approve the budget as early as next month.
But to attract and retain qualified people in all those new positions, the town needs to pay the going market rate, Town Manager George Pettit says.
To determine that rate, Gilbert looked at the pay scales of Phoenix, Mesa, Tempe, Chandler, Scottsdale, Peoria and Glendale.
"On average, our minimum and maximum ranges are 5 percent lower than our market comparison communities," Pettit wrote in a report to the council.
To remedy that, Pettit has proposed the 6 percent raise effective April 25. The raise would affect all staff except Pettit, whose pay is set by contract with the council. The proposal goes before the council Tuesday.
Mayor Steve Berman said his only concern on the raises was where the extra $3.39 million a year — the amount of a 6 percent increase — will come from.
"They just have to show me where the revenue is going to come from," he said. "I haven’t seen all the final numbers yet on how we’re going to pay for it."