• Last modified 515 days ago (Sept. 20, 2018)


Study says county employees underpaid

Staff writer

Consultants hired to do a county salary study recommended a new pay plan to county commissioners Monday.

Close to 50 percent of employees are behind the market on minimum starting pay, and 80 percent of employees are under the market pay rate, Malayna Maes and Victoria McGrath, of McGrath Human Resources Group said.

The proposed plan is to have annual raises, with employees hitting the cap after 11 years. Currently, employees receive a raise after six months, one year, and then every five years. They reach the cap after 45 years.

“As much as employees would like to, we cannot slot people in by how long they’ve been here,” Maes said.

McGrath recommends consistent step increases, moving from 10 pay grade levels to 16. They also suggest temporary levels to raise pay rates gradually. County workers will be placed on the pay level closest to their current one, without taking a decrease.

“Those additional pay grades allow for some separation of positions that your current schedule doesn’t have,” Maes said.

One of the concerns with this plan is the effect it would have on county finances, commissioner Kent Becker said.

“In the first year, we’re going to have a bunch of people move into temporary pay grades,” he said. “That’s going to affect the budget substantially.”

Under the plan proposed by McGrath, all employees would reach the market standard in four years. It would result in a $46,000 increase in the first year’s budget, with an average annual increase of $50,000 over four years.

Proposed pay scales for the county took into account several factors, such as promotions and competitor rates, McGrath said.

“The market data is just one piece of information we use in evaluating where the placement should be,” she said.

While bringing all employees up to standard is important, priority should be given to those furthest below the market level, commission chairman Dianne Novak said.

Ed Debesis made his final appearance as EMS director to discuss distribution of ambulances in the county.

Marion and Hillsboro recently received new ambulances, while Marion’s old ambulance went to Tampa.

Novak said she wants to set guidelines for acceptable situations to use county vehicles.

“We really don’t have a policy,” she said. “It is so vague that it leaves room for speculation and all kinds of crazy stuff.

“We need to look at our policy because I see our vehicles everywhere.”

The county supplies company vehicles to department heads, but only those in Marion are allowed to take them home, commissioner Randy Dallke said.

“The person who lives in Goessel would take one home 35 miles, while somebody here in Marion would take it home a mile,” Dallke said.

County vehicles sustain heavy mileage, so reducing the wear and tear is important, but that can put a strain on employees, Becker said.

“If we could save even 100,000 miles out of the whole fleet, do we gain another year’s service out of them,” he asked.

Last modified Sept. 20, 2018