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County eyes pay grade updates

January 20, 2009|By HEATHER KEELS

WASHINGTON COUNTY -- About 100 Washington County employees would receive raises under changes to the county's salary grade system recommended Tuesday by a review committee.

The changes, which bring salaries in line with increased duties and requirements associated with certain positions, would cost the county almost $250,000, including about $195,600 in direct salaries and about $46,600 in benefits, according to the committee's report.

The Washington County Commissioners will decide whether to approve the changes when they create their budget for fiscal year 2010, which begins July 1.

Approving the changes would raise the county's total labor budget 0.4 percent, an increase County Administrator Gregory B. Murray called "minimal."

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"I think that's noteworthy that the committee really took seriously what kind of impact this would create," said Murray, who served as an ex-officio member of the Salary Review Committee.

The 13-member committee was tasked in September with reviewing the salary grades for job classifications currently assigned to grades 8-14, said Human Resources Director George William Sonnik III. There are 379 employees, including most of the county's technical and administrative staff, in this salary grade range, which corresponds to base salaries of roughly $29,000 to $46,000.

The committee will review salary grades 15 to 22 next year and grades 1 to 7 the following year, Sonnik said.

When considering whether to recommend a salary upgrade, committee members focused on the job itself, not the individuals currently holding it, said Washington County Sheriff's Department Col. Randy Wilkinson, who chaired the review committee.

The committee used job descriptions and questionnaires to collect information on the required qualifications and duties for each job, then plugged them into formulas developed by an independent company that have been used for salary studies since the 1990s, Wilkinson said.

Sonnik said many of the upgraded job classifications have higher educational requirements now due to new technologies or added duties. Some positions were even given new classification titles, at department heads' request, because the duties changed so much, he said. For example, the former "senior office associate" position in the State's Attorney's Office was reclassified as a "victim witness coordinator" and upgraded three salary grades to reflect what the person in that position is now required to do, Sonnik said.

That shift was one of the most significant upgrades recommended, he said. Most positions and classifications that were upgraded rose only one grade.

Commissioner Kristin B. Aleshire said he thought the changes were appropriate, given how outdated the job classifications were, and commended the committee for keeping the impact to a minimum.

Commissioner James F. Kercheval said he thought the committee did a good job, but the county would have to consider the impact of the changes in the context of its overall budget, which is likely to be tight.

"Everything's going to be on the table this year as far as what we approve or don't approve," he said.

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