After some adjustments to keep ultimate control of contract decisions with the PUD Commission, a new policy that will allow the Cowlitz PUD General Manager to negotiate certain employment contracts was adopted on a 3-0 vote yesterday afternoon. Commission President Buz Ketcham says that the goal is to help retain talented people in key positions…PUDHR…Current GM Don McMaster says that this new policy will help give him some additional leverage in employee negotiations. He says that other utilities have lured some key employees away in recent months, by offering better pay and benefits. Under this policy, “wage bands” will be set for non-represented employees, based on the median wage for similar positions in other PUD’s around the area. McMaster will also have a “bucket” that he can use for merit-based wage increases, given the ability to reward employees that go above and beyond, or who are taking on extra duties. Ketcham was also pleased that they were able to get a unanimous vote on this policy, after initial concerns were raised about some of the provisions. Ketcham says that the 3-0 vote shows that the Commissioners can have differences of opinion, but can also talk things through and come to a resolution that works for everyone.