The board of trustees of the Galveston wharves, which governs the island’s public docks, decided Monday to give Port of Galveston employees a one-time $1,250 salary supplement.
The wharves board unanimously voted to give the port’s 90 employees the one-time pay bump, a total of about $112,500, rather than offer salary increases. Port Director Michael Mierzwa and Deputy Director Peter Simons, who have different contracts, won’t get the pay supplement.
Mierzwa proposed increasing employee salaries by a certain percentage, depending on base pay. The increase would’ve cost about $27,000 for the remaining fiscal year ending Dec. 31. Wharves board trustees had already approved about $115,000 for pay increases for the current fiscal year, but they had not yet approved salary adjustments.
The proposal would’ve cost $88,000 less than budgeted, but salary increases would remain in effect next year.
The wharves board has previously waited to grant budgeted salary increases until October, when hurricane season has passed and port officials can assess the past year of business. The port operates on a thin profit margin and doesn’t receive a stream of taxpayer dollars.
Trustee Elizabeth Beeton said budgeted salary increases should be given to employees at the beginning of the fiscal year. Whether the port increases salaries in January or October, the wharves board is granting pay raises without knowing the future, Beeton said.
“I’d like to see us change the way we’re doing it,” she said.
The wharves board decided instead to give the one-time salary supplement and determine next year’s pay adjustments during budget-making process, which starts in mid-November.
Pay raises have varied for port employees over the past several years. Last year, trustees approved a one-time, performance-based salary supplement ranging from $1,000 to $2,000 or $3,000, depending on an assessment by managers. The port ran into problems with this method, however. An employee filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Mierzwa said.
In 2014, the port adjusted salaries based on a study completed by a consultant. The port paid some employees more to bring them in line with workers at other organizations. Others received a 1.5 percent cost-of-living pay raise.
Employees didn’t get a salary increase in 2013.