Report of poor employee morale leads to pay hikes for Park Board workers

Three months after an employee survey revealed poor morale at the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board, Superintendent Jayne Miller is asking the board to reinstate $300,000 in performance-based step increases for employees.

The pay increases, if approved, would be retroactive to 2011, when step increases were frozen. Payments to employees would come on June 1.

“A contributing factor to low employee morale is the MPRB’s current budget restrictions on cost-of-living and step increases,” a Park Board memo states.

A consultant report released on Jan. 25 said “virtually everyone” with whom consultants spoke said there is a climate of fear, vindictiveness, racial distrust and anger in the organization.

“Retroactively granting step increases to the date employees were eligible for a step in 2011, and granting steps in 2012, is viewed as a necessary and positive step towards demonstrating that the MPRB values employees and provides recognition for good performance,” the memo states.

As of February, employment at the Park Board totaled 463 positions. If the $300,000 in pay increases were spread among all employees, each employee would get about $650. The step increases, however, are performance-based, so it’s unclear how many will get them.

According to the memo, the $300,000 will be covered through savings in vacant positions within the Park Board.