Consultant to county, stop pay hikes

April 18, 1997


Staff Writer

A consultant recommended to the Washington County Commissioners Thursday that they eliminate step increases and flat cost-of-living increases for the county's 575 full-time employees and institute a new pay system based in part on merit.

The new system would eliminate the entitlement mentality that infects step-based pay systems and would provide incentives for employees to improve their performances, consultant Charles F. Hendricks said.

"Steps are dead," said Human Resources Director Alan Davis.

"Underperformers who look at a step as an entitlement will hate this program," said County Administrator Rodney Shoop.

Under the plan, individual employees could receive anywhere from no increase to more than twice the average pay increase.

According to the study, once the County Commissioners decide on a percentage pay increase in a given year, the increase for each employee would depend on a formula that would involve a merit rating and the ratio of the employee's salary to the midpoint of salaries for the employee's grade level. The midpoint for each grade level is based on competitive market salaries from a survey of area governments and businesses, Hendricks said.


Employees whose salaries were less than the market salary would receive larger increases than employees making more than the market salary, provided they both received the same merit ranking.

Under the merit ranking system, county supervisors would rate their employees on a scale from 1 to 4. Employees rated unsatisfactory would receive a 1 and get no pay raise. Employees rated excellent would receive a rating of 4 and would receive 150 percent of the increase determined by their salary to market salary ratio.

Employees with a rating of 3 would receive 100 percent of the increase, and employees with a rating of 2 would receive 50 percent.

Hendricks said the county's step plan had broken down because employees hadn't received step increases in several years. There were cases in which some 5-year employees were receiving the same salary as new hires because there had been no increase in steps, Hendricks said.

Hendricks said the employee benefit package, which includes 10 holidays, five personal days, and two to four weeks of vacation depending on experience, was in line with other area governments.

Other recommendations include:

  • Instituting a flexible benefit plan which allows employees to use pretax income for expenses such as child care and medical care. If employees used more of their pretax income, the county wouldn't have to pay as much Social Security taxes and the employees will also save on their taxes.

  • Changing all employees to a 40-hour work week, which the commissioners have agreed to in principle.

    The County Commissioners will review the study before deciding whether to implement its findings.

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