County employees will be getting a wage and performance review after a majority of supervisors voted to approve paying a consultant $37,000 to do a comparison study between what county workers make and what private sector employees earn. The issue was a point of discussion at Tuesday’s monthly county board meeting.
A resolution authored by Supervisor Scott Holewinski pointed out numerous reasons for the study, including that it would: assist the county in developing a total compensation measurement method that would support the strategic management of its pay plans; document position responsibilities for all staff; determine the appropriate relationship between pay and benefits; conduct market research to determine appropriate competitive compensation relationships to the county so it can successfully recruit/retain highly qualified employees; recommend allocations of each position to an appropriate pay grade scale based on appropriate internal equity and marketplace considerations; review the current process for internal maintenance of the classification and compensation system; and conduct classification appeals following adoption of a new plan.
The consultant firm the board hired to do the study is Carlson Dettmann, which is based in Madison. Their website states, “Carlson’s firm has stepped in to fill a void created by the dissolution of public sector unions that allowed counties and cities to set their own pay scales without bargaining and reset local government wages more in line with the private sector. The company has earned a lucrative business winning contracts from cities and counties to benchmark current employee wages against comparable private-sector pay. The firm then produces a series of recommendations to bring pay scales more in line with what private sector workers earn for comparable work.”
“We had a study done by this firm in 2001 and that is what we are using today to determine compensation for our employees,” said Holewinski. “It’s hard when employees come to us and tell us they are worth more money. We need an outside firm to give us some guidance.”
Lisa Charbarneau, human resource director for Oneida County, explained that the $37,000 cost to do this study could be reduced by $5,000 if she helped gather some of the data. “I think if I were to call a company in Oneida County and ask what they pay their employees, I would probably have better luck getting that information than a consultant,” she said. “The company agreed that if I helped with the survey they would reduce the bill.”
Some board members were against hiring Carlson Dettman. “I this think is a large expenditure that we should be able to do in-house,” said Tom Rudolph, supervisor. “If you got comparables from other cities, it wouldn’t cost $37,000.”
However, Ted Cushing, board chairman, thought the study would be good for the county. “This needs to be done,” he told the board. “It’s one of those items that’s been on my plate for three years. We owe our constituents to do this study. We need to go through with this so we can better manage our policy making and treat our employees on a fair basis.”
The majority of the board voted to approve hiring the consulting firm, but supervisors Jack Martinson, Rudolph, Bob Martini, Bob Metropulos and Billy Fried voted no on the resolution.
In other business the board:
• approved a resolution that urges Governor Scott Walker to accept federal dollars for Medicaid which will improve the Badger Care program.
• listened to an hour-long presentation by Corporate Counsel Brian Desmond on the dos and don’ts of open meetings and open record laws and;
• approved purchasing an end loader costing $112,000 and a patrol truck costing $375,000.