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BOLIVIA—A newly released salary study says county employees are paid 8 percent less than those in comparative markets.
But restructuring suggestions don’t have the full support of county commissioners.
County officials contracted Evergreen Solutions to review employee job classifications and salary ranges last year. They received the results at their budget retreat Feb. 28.
The review received support of only three commissioners—chairman Phil Norris, Scott Phillips and Frank Williams.
Commissioners Pat Sykes and Marty Cooke did not like the options for salary restructuring the consultant provided.
Brian Wolf, assistant project director with Evergreen Solutions, offered five options for consideration.
Option 1, based on a 20-year career period, assumes an employee’s salary increases yearly through their pay range.
Employees who have been with the county 10 years would be at the midpoint of their assigned range.
Because Brunswick County is viewed as 8 percent less than market, if an employee’s salary is below the proposed minimum for the job class pay range, the salary would be raised to the minimum.
Wolf said if an employee is already at or above where they should be, they would not receive a pay increase.
In its study, Evergreen determined 307 employees are less than their minimum, which would cost $781,000 to level salaries out.
Wolf said the county has 690 employees whose salaries don’t match their experience. The total to bring all of them to their assigned range would be $3.5 million.
Wolf proposed the county select either a 5 percent increase, which would cost $1.2 million, 7.5 percent, which would cost $1.8 million or 10 percent, which would cost $2.3 million.
Option 2 is based on the same plan, but extended the career length to 30 years.
Option 3 offers stepped pay increases through the first half of an employee’s career, with performance reviews determining pay increases after reaching their midpoint.
Option 4 offers percentage increases in salary based on level of performance and longevity.
Option 5 offers percentage salary increases focusing on years of service.
Wolf recommended Option 1.
Sykes said she was not in favor of an 8 percent increase in salaries, especially for employees who have not been with the county for a year yet.
“In my opinion, we should not use any of the options,” Sykes said.
She recommended comparing salaries to the numbers compiled for each county by the University of North Carolina School of Government.
Cooke said he was not happy with fluctuating numbers in the Evergreen estimates before the presentation, but added he doesn’t think the county has the money available for an 8 percent increase.
“I have serious reservations,” Cooke said of the options provided.
Cooke proposed offering a series of 3 percent cost of living adjustments (COLA), one in spring 2013, another in the fall and a third in early 2014, which would increase salaries by 9 percent.
He added any increases in salaries would be limited to employees making less than $85,000.
Wolf calculated a 3 percent COLA increase would cost the county $1 million.
While Sykes and Cooke were not interested in using the proposal Evergreen provided, Norris said the options provided were a benefit to the county officials’ decision-making process.
“From my perspective, we get a better idea of the job description and classification,” Norris said.
Norris asked other board members if they had a preference of options presented.
Commissioner Frank Williams said he preferred Option 2 due to the 30-year career plan, but wanted to include the stepped increases from Option 3.
Phillips preferred Option 1 as long as service years, merit and performance criteria are used to decide salaries.
Norris favored of a version of Option 1.
With three commissioners leaning toward Evergreen’s recommended option, Norris asked for a vote to approve moving forward to get more specific details on Option 1 from Evergreen Solutions.
Sykes was swayed to hear more details, so the board voted 4-0 to move forward with Option 1.
Cooke abstained from the vote.
Another workshop on the salary study is scheduled for March 18 prior to the regularly scheduled county board meeting.
Brian Slattery is a staff writer for The Brunswick Beacon. Reach him at 754-6890 or email@example.com.