Study to compare fair wages for employees

By Chad Koenen


The City of Henning will be completing a study to make sure it is in line with fair wages and offerings for all employees.

During its regularly scheduled meeting on Monday night, the Henning City Council heard from city clerk/treasurer Kim Schroeder and Willow Creek Executive Director Lisa Augustus about a desire for additional compensation and benefits. 

The request came after the city deviated from its standard vacation time package for one year when it hired new utility supervisor Ted Strand. As part of the hiring, the city council approved by a 4-1 margin, a package that included three weeks of vacation for Strand in the first year, while going back to the standard vacation accrual time in subsequent years.

In a statement to the council, Augustus said her work ethic is similar to how Mayor Darren Wiese described the new utility supervisor. 

“I am a dedicated employee. I had worked at the same skilled nursing facility for over 22 years until it closed and I was forced to find a new job,” she said. “I do not call in sick, even when I had COVID and could not go into the facility I worked from home to assure that my job expectations were met. The sick time that I have used was for serious family members health concerns.”

Augustus said she asked for a higher wage than what was being offered when she was initially hired, due to her experience in the industry. However, she said she did not receive the higher wage she was seeking at the time. She also said the city employees received a 2 percent cost of living increase across the board for 2022, which included the city cutting its contributions to an HSA account. 

Schroeder said she also had 19 years of clerk and local government experience when she was hired for the clerk/treasurer position in Henning. She said it was difficult for her to understand why the city council approved additional vacation time for Strand on his first day, when she gets less vacation and she has been with the city for over three years. She also requested to have a pay equity study done and creation of a pay table.

“The city does not have a pay equity study or a pay table that other government agencies have in place and use annually and consistently. Henning wages are historically determined based on arbitrarily pulling starting hourly rates and annual COLA percentages based on what council members and/or the public feel is a ‘good wage. Wage increases are not given by merit, how well employees perform their jobs, or following a COLA labor and industry percentage for this area. Also keeping in line with what other government entities use.”

Kim Schroeder, clerk/treasurer at the City of Henning

Both Augustus and Schroeder requested additional vacation time equal to what Strand received for his first year of employment and an increase in compensation. 

City attorney Tom Jacobson recommended the city complete a pay equity and compensation study by an outside firm. He also recommended, which the council later unanimously approved, holding off on any requests for additional vacation time and compensation for Schroeder and Augustus until the pay equity study was completed.

The council said it will hire an outside firm to complete a pay study before acting on any request for additional compensation.