Utah Valley Community College employees are getting their first raise in three years, but they'll be hard pressed not to spend it all in one place.

The legislatively appropriated increase, which averages at 3 percent, will still mean UVCC workers are among the lowest paid college employees in the state.UVCC employees are paid 19 percent less than their peers at comparable colleges in the Mountain West, college president Kerry Romesburg said.

"We know we are losing good people," Romesburg said. "One of our staff members left to do the same kind of work for a 30 percent raise in an area with a lower cost of living. He has a family. I couldn't blame him."

Romesburg said the Board of Regents suggested colleges and universities try to find extra funds to give raises above 3 percent. Several institutions could. Romesburg said UVCC raised money for an additional 1 percent. The money will come from employee from turnover (new employees were hired at a lower pay rate than the more experienced workers they replaced, and the savings will finance the additional 1 percent increase).

College officials decided to split the money in the following fashion:

- Salaried faculty members will get a base increase of 1.75 percent. Merit raises will be awarded to some.

- Faculty members who are paid by the hour will receive a 4 percent increase. Romesburg said these faculty members "are woefully underpaid, and will get the full 4 percent."

- Professional and administrative employees will get a base salary increase of 2 percent. Some merit raises will be given.

- Classified employees will get a 1.9 base increase in pay and as much as a 1.75 increase based upon merit.

- Executive employees will get a 1.75 base increase, with the remaining 2.25 percent awarded for merit at Romesburg's discretion.

- The college will pay 97 percent of employees' health insurance premiums, up from 94.5 percent. Romesburg said most other colleges pay 100 percent of such premiums.

"We wish we had more money to give," Romesburg said. "We are very fortunate to live in this community with a pool of good people who will work for hourly wagers."

Such teachers, who make up 50 percent of the overall teaching staff and 70 percent of instructors in general studies, are currently paid $16.20 per hour, Romesburg said, but only for hours spent in class. Hours used for preparation, grading of tests and advising are unpaid, so many teachers end up "working full-time hours for part-time pay," he said.

Many teachers work a second job, and have little time for advising students, he said. This effects the quality of education at UVCC.

"We have been called the thriftiest institution in the state, but some people would translate that to `cheap,' " Romesburg said. "To keep quality high, we will need to make some changes for the future, whether it is a cap on enrollment or some other change."