Editor’s Note: This is another in a series of articles on a study conducted on the City of Georgetown on its past and present financial condition with some projections on the city’s financial future. Mayor Tom Prather will be giving the annual State of the City Address Monday during the monthly Georgetown/Scott County Chamber of Commerce luncheon.
At its peak, Georgetown employed 241 during 2005-06 when the city’s population was 25,014.
Currently, the city employs 193 with a population of 34,395, according to a report on Georgetown’s financial health.
“We did not add a single person to payroll during the last budget cycle,” said Mayor Tom Prather while presenting the report to the city council in January.
That translates to 5.61 emplo-yees per 1,000 city residents, down from 14.09 in 1999 and 9.63 in 2006, the report states.
As stated in earlier articles, much of the personnel shortfall comes in the police and fire departments, according to the report.
Using data from 18 “peer” cities, the report states Georgetown is 17 police officers and 20 firefighters short of the peer average.
The report states benefits, as well as salaries hinder the city’s ability to hire and retain employees.
“It has become dramatically more expensive for (Georgetown) to provide employee benefits,” states the report. “In 1999, for every dollar spent on salary, it spent, on average another 38 cents in benefits. That number is higher for hazardous duty employees.
“Twenty years later, it spends 70 cents per dollar for benefits. The state-mandated pension contribution increases will push that number up even faster. By 2030, it is estimated the city will spend almost as much in benefits as it does in salary.”
It costs 41 percent more for a city employee today than two decades ago, the report states.
“(Georgetown’s) share of employee benefits makes up a disproportionately high percentage of this increase,” the report states. “Adjusted for inflation, average salary per employee increased by only 19 percent. Health insurance increased by 76 percent. Retirement contributions increased by an astounding 212 percent.”
In 2000, the average cost of a city employee was $30,307, states the report. in 2018, that average rose to $62,718, the report states.
“In 2019, the city spent $7.8 million on salaries,” states the report. “It is projected to spend $9.3 million in 2030. That’s an increase of 19.4 percent. In 2019, the city spent $5.5 million on non-salary personnel expenses. It is projected to spend $8.8 million in 2030. That’s an increase of 61.7 percent.”
Mike Scogin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.