Some Grand Island city employees are getting a large salary increase as the city continues to work on their annual budget.
The city says that becoming a metropolitan statistical area has opened up more opportunities for Grand Island's growth, but it also changed the way the city decides what to pay their employees.
The city uses surveys to offer comparable wages, and since GI is now a metro area, state law says they can only survey other metro areas.
"It also in that same statute talks about things like proximity and size and those are the guidelines or the rules that we do follow, and that's what we have done with this survey as well," says the city's Human Resources Director Brenda Sutherland.
The results mean big wage increases for police and some non-union city workers as their labor agreements are up for negotiation this budget year.
Sutherland says the biggest changes - like police who will get a 12-23% pay raise - will be spread out over the next three years.
"Right now it seems like an awful lot, and it is, but right now we're playing catch up, once we get caught up, then we're not going to see these kinds of extreme increases," she says.
Next year six labor agreements will have to be negotiated with new metro area comparisons, so GI will face these same budget issues for the next three to four years.
But Sutherland says the city is already funding some positions at about the same rate as other cities, so not everyone will receive a big pay jump.
"When you look at the non-union this year, not all positions were seeing increases - we had some positions that are seeing no increases, we have some positions that are seeing a small increase, and they're going to be mid-point in the market this first year," says Sutherland.
The city's budget needs to be to the state by September 20.
It's far from final, but city officials don't think a tax increase will be needed to make this year's budget work.