Danville giving $1/hour raises to some employees

Published 6:15 am Tuesday, July 10, 2018

The City of Danville will continue looking into ways to become more competitive in “attracting and maintaining employees,” according to a report from its city manager, Ron Scott. And instead of waiting for the return of a salary study, Scott said “qualifying” employees will receive a $1/hour raise — which would be about 60 to 70 percent of city employees, he said.

Scott told commissioners during Monday’s meeting that “during the lengthy process of consideration and adoption of the city’s budget, some employees urged the city commission to increase compensation above the 2-percent cost of living adjustment and 1-percent merit increases that I recommended.”

Scott informed the commission that higher compensation will be provided to qualifying employees, in lieu of the 3-percent raise otherwise provided, prior to completion of the salary study.

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“Also, I am committed to publishing all employee salaries on the city’s webpage to enhance understanding, recruitment and retention efforts. Under open records, such information must be provided anyway upon request,” Scott said. He’s committed to doing that, he said, “from my salary all the way down.”

Commissioner J.H. Atkins asked for clarification — if names of employees would be posted with their salaries, to which Scott said no, only positions.

Scott pointed out that during budget planning and adoption, he did not recommend any tax increases associated with the budget, nor did the commission adopt or plan to adopt any tax increase for the next fiscal year.

“However, during the budget adoption process, I received comments from city commission that it would be desirable to provide higher compensation in order to be more competitive,” Scott said. “…if the funds could be found within the adopted budget to do so.”

He said the city manager has both “the responsibility and the authority to administer the budget once adopted.” Danville’s personnel policies also provide that except for Scott’s own salary, he has the authority to make salary adjustments during the year as necessary — in accordance with the approved budget.

Scott said he held a series of discussions with the city clerk/human resources director, the chief financial officer and all members of his management team. Everyone shared the commission’s goals of making employee compensation more competitive for all city employees and making employee retention more likely.

Scott said funding for all adjustments will be derived from three main areas:

• the funds already approved to make the 3-percent adjustment for all employees;

• the reallocation of $50,000 from the administration budget to conduct the salary study; and

• operational savings from each department in the next fiscal year.

“The expected cost of the 3-percent adjustment is about $235,000, supplemented by the $50,000 consulting fees re-allocated to salaries, and about $215,000 to $225,000 in total to be achieved by operational savings — in part derived from better utilization of overtime,” Scott said. In order to come up with the additional funds, department managers will have to manage their budgets more frugally, he said.

Scott said the qualifying employees will be those who have been with the city “for some time,” and the bigger raises will be “applied where demonstrated to be warranted,” based on the most recent Kentucky League of Cities Wage & Salary Survey.

“As we attempt to get employees to a 75-percent benchmark, as compared to employees’ pay in other cities, we have to recognize that employees don’t start out at the top,” Scott said. “They start at an entry level and progress through time based upon their experience and service.”

He said consistent with employees’ requests, the goal is to move all employees toward the 75 percent benchmark in compensation based on total years of service, and based on the length of service of the employee in a comparable job position in which they must have served for three years or more.

“Taking the step at this time to provide a $1 per hour raise for all employees meeting the outlined criteria is a demonstrated effort by the city commission and administration to adjust pay upward, as compared with the KLC salary survey,” Scott said.

Being paid at the 75-percent benchmark means an employee makes as much or more than 75 percent of other employees in comparable positions around the state, based on the results of the KLC salary survey.

The goal is for non-hazardous duty employees to reach the 50-percent benchmark at 15 years of service and the 75-percent benchmark at 20 years of service, Scott said. For hazardous duty employees, the goal would be to reach the 50-percent benchmark at 10 years of service and the 75-percent benchmark at 15 years of service. Those goals are made assuming non-hazardous duty employees would work for 27 years and hazardous duty employees would work for 20 years, Scott said.

“It’s our collective goal to have employees be paid competitively,” he said.

Although all of the information within the KLC survey don’t apply to all positions with the city, Scott said the data does “in some but not all cases indicate that certain job titles or job positions in our various departments are paid less than those paid in the defined ‘comparable cities.’”

Scott said during the month of July, various department heads will be scheduling meetings with all employees to discuss compensation packages.

“Our further goal is to have zero-percent turnover in the year ahead, or as close to that as may be possible to achieve,” Scott said.

Mayor Mike Perros asked Scott if the change meant some employees would receive a reduction in pay; the answer was no.

The compensation changes are not a substitute for a more comprehensive salary study that will be made in the future, but they are “a proactive step being taken at the present time,” Scott said.

“I think this is great,” Atkins said. “It’s important we stress to employees this is just the start of a more direct focus” about employees’ salaries.

Atkins then asked if any city employees had already reached the 75-percent benchmark. Scott said “not many.”

“Some are closer to it. Generally, we’re not overpaid as city employees,” Scott said, then added that his salary as city manager is “probably closer to the 75-percentile range. Maybe one or two others.”

The raise will not include department heads or management, Scott said, only hourly employees. “But I do have some discretion to make some adjustments with department heads,” he said.