Plain City village council has agreed to move forward with a change in the employee pay schedule.
At a work session Tuesday, the council directed Village Administrator Nathan Cahall to create a salary proposal that would bring village employees in line with other employees performing the same job in other communities.
Last year, council hired the consulting firm of Clemans Nelson to conduct a study of the village salary and compensation schedule. The firm compared multiple surrounding and similar communities. The consultants determined that several Plain City employees were underpaid for the position and community.
In January, council directed Village Administrator Nathan Cahall to prepare a resolution and two pay structures for council to review during the executive session. The first of the pay schedules would bring all employees to the minimum salary recommended by Clemans Nelson. It would mean a salary adjustment for five employees and a longevity bonus for 10 employees. The total cost to implement that pay schedule for 2019 would be $33,616.
The second pay schedule would bring employees to a recommended midpoint. It would mean a salary adjustment for nine village employees and cost a total of $84,373 to implement.
At Tuesday night’s meeting council discussed the study as well as the recommendations. Council also discussed how salary increases would be given. Officials said they wanted a mix of step increases based on longevity as well as merit based on a supervisor’s recommendation. The Clemans Nelson study gave council a picture of the cost to a midrange salary, but not of how the village should move employee salaries past the midpoint.
Police Chief Dale McKee said it takes an employee in Plain City about 20 years to hit the maximum salary. He said many communities have employees reach the maximum in six to 10 years.
Council directed Cahall to develop a plan that would allow employees, “in good standing” to reach the maximum salary in 10 years. They also asked him to map out steps beyond the midpoint.
Council agreed that all employees should have an annual evaluation and as long as the employee is meeting expectations, there would be a step increase. They agreed the employee supervisor should also have flexibility to move an employee on the scale based on better than expected performance or on a change in job responsibilities.
“We also need to know that just because we make a decision on this now, doesn’t obligate us to do this in the future,” Cahall said.
He said that good communities regularly look at wage structure compared to other surrounding communities. He said it is easier to make small changes periodically than to make less regular larger changes.
“The key to everything is predicated on council approving enough dollars each year, so it is by no means a runaway train,” Cahall said.
Council discussed briefly the idea of having employees share a greater portion of health benefits, but abandoned the idea. Cahall said the village has a good agreement with the insurance provider and pays about $20,000 in premiums per employee on the plan. He said the average for communities is between $20,000 and $25,000. He said salary is a recruitment tool, but good benefits are a good tool to keep employees.
Council acknowledged that balancing cost to the village, against recruiting and retaining employees can be difficult. They said they understand the need to also balance longevity with flexibility for supervisors.
“I think one reason it is so hard for council is we have been doing it so long the same way,” Council President Kerri Ferguson said. “This is all new. It is a lot to digest.”
Following the discussions, council held a series of executive sessions to discuss compensation for employees in positions identified by Clemans Nelson as being underpaid.
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