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Study on county salaries gets nod

Commission to spend $60,000 for suggestions about county pay

Commission to spend $60,000 for suggestions about county pay

November 13, 2002|by TARA REILLY

tarar@herald-mail.com

WASHINGTON COUNTY - The Washington County Commissioners agreed Tuesday to spend more than $60,000 on a study that will recommend whether county employees should receive pay raises in fiscal year 2004, after hearing concerns from the county's human resources director that the current salary levels make it difficult to attract and keep qualified employees.

The County Commissioners approved the $61,530 study, with Commissioner William J. Wivell being the only one who opposed it.

Wivell could not be reached for comment to explain his vote.

The study should be completed by mid-February.

Human Resources Director Alan Davis said the study will also determine whether the county's pay levels and benefits packages are competitive with surrounding areas.

The county is seeing strong competition from private employers who pay more and from other higher-paying areas, Davis said.

He said the county has had problems attracting candidates for several positions, including motor equipment operators, and water and sewer plant operators.

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The county recently spent $5,000 advertising for the Economic Development Commission director post but received just 17 applicants, Davis said.

Davis said the study will recommend whether to keep the county's current pay system, which consists of one wage scale for all employees. The wages are broken down by categories and lump positions such as patrol deputies and equipment operators under the same category.

County employees have said there's no way to tell what their salaries will be several years down the road because the current scale doesn't contain step increases. Rather, pay levels are classified by minimum, midway and maximum pay designations.

Washington County Sheriff's Department officials have said it takes a lot of time before an employee reaches the scale's midway point.

The study will also recommend whether the county should establish a separate pay scale for public safety employees, a request made by Sheriff Charles F. Mades in September, Davis said.

"Public safety employees and collective bargaining employees feel that there's a better way to do it," Davis said.

Sprinsted Incorporated of Virginia Beach, Va., will perform the study, which involves 276 job classifications for 644 full-time and 268 regular part-time employees.

Davis said he thinks the study shouldn't be a problem to complete, but that finding money for salary increases would be a challenge.

"The study is not the difficult part," Davis said. "The difficult part is if we adopt this study, how do we implement it? What it's going to come down to is money."

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