A new way to pay Oneida County employees was approved Tuesday when supervisors met for their monthly meeting. With unions no longer in the bargaining process due to the passing of Act 10 in 2011, county boards across the state have had to come up with ways to evaluate job performance and fair compensation for their public employees.
The county hired Carlson Dettman Consulting LLC this past fall to evaluate all positions within the county and compare wages with private sector jobs. Overall, the company found that workers at the lower end of the pay scale were making less compared to employees in the private sector, however, many county managerial positions were being over compensated.
Charles Carlson of Carlson Dettman Consulting LLC has been working with the county to find a way to fairly compensate employees and he was at the board meeting to answer questions.
“This is going on all over the state,” he said. “You have to have a structure in place to determine the fair pay for all employees. Before it was unions determining pay schedules, now that is up to you.”
The resolution the board passed included two separate pay scales for both exempt and non-exempt employees. Exempt employees receive a salary while non-exempt employees are compensated by the hour. Employees in the sheriff’s department and elected officials were not included in the study.
Carlson told the board that one of the ways to make the new pay schedules successful was to implement job performance reviews and that caused supervisors to question several of his recommendations.
“Has every county employee seen this pay scale?” Supervisor Bob Mott said. “Each employee should be given an opportunity to make suggestions. My concern is employees moral.”
But Carlson was blunt on how the county should compensate employees.
“You are not in the happiness business,” he said. “This is about being fair.”
Mott did request an amendment to the resolution that would give employees an opportunity to create a committee to recommend performance-review standards and that was approved.
Attached to the original resolution were examples of how the pay scale would work. There are 12 pay grades for exempt employees; eight pay grades for new employees and 11 pay grades for non-exempt employees.
For instance the minimum pay for a non-exempt full-time Account Technician would start at $17.71 and depending on job performance could go as high as $22.77. An exempt employee like a Data Processor Director would start at $32.39 and go to a maximum of $44.42.
Another concern of some supervisors was if a job performance was conducted, would employees have an opportunity to appeal it if they found it incorrect.
“Yes, you have to have that built in to the grading system,” Carlson said. “This is like building a house. You have to have the structure in place before you furnish it. Establishing these parameters lets employees know exactly what their options are.”
Carlson also noted that any type of pay rate system was a work in progress.
“This isn’t written in stone,” he said. “There is always room for tweaking it and making it work for this particular county.”
Points in the resolution also addressed how county employees would be compensated according to the results of the study Carlson did.
“Employees who are making more than comparable private sector employees will remain at the same wage,” said Carlson. “Employees who are below that scale will receive additional pay to get them where they need to be on the pay scale.”
The board unanimously approved the resolution.
In other business the board planned a closed session to discuss the sale of the former WPS building. The county bought this structure in 2008 for $525,000 but today it is for sale for $365,000.
Last month local businessman Mike Boyd offered three options for acquiring the structure. These options included the county making a loan to Boyd to remodel the structure, the county leasing back some of the property and there was no actual money exchanging hands for the building. None of these offers were accepted.
This month the county received an offer from Midwest Lease LLC for $185,000. The purpose of the closed session was to discuss the proposal but Supervisor Jerry Shidell, made a motion to keep the negotiations open and have the county counter the offer at $225,000. The motion included having the Land Management Committee negotiate the deal and bring it back at the March meeting.
Only one supervisor, Tom Rudolph, voted against the motion. He felt the board should have taken Boyd’s offer and “that all the options should have not been explored.”
In other business the board:
– Appointed Mary Rideout as director of the Department of Social Services. She will take over for Paul Spencer who is retiring.
– Approved a $73,000 expenditure from the general fund to upgrade the 911 phone system.
– Approved reorganizing the Highway and Solid Waste Department due to several employee retirements.