County To Look At Management Pay

December 10, 2007
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GRAND RAPIDS — County commissioners will decide this week whether to adopt a new salary structure for administrators, managers and executives.

If commissioners do adopt it, their decision will mean pay increases for those staffers next year that will range from 2.25 percent to 3.75 percent. Their approval will also mean that employees in those groups who retire after early 2008 will see their maximum health care supplement rise from $250 to $300 a month.

The increases are estimated to cost the county $660,000 in 2008, and those funds have been included in the annual budget commissioners are expected to adopt this week.

County Administrator and Controller Daryl Delabbio, the county’s top executive, said the higher pay and retiree supplement was still about 15 percent less than the last increase.

The salary structure recommendation came from a compensation study the county hired Fox Lawson & Associates to conduct on its behalf. County salaries were compared to those of other counties in the state, some nonprofit organizations and a few for-profit businesses.

County Human Resources Director Don Clack said one finding from the study showed that most positions at the county were being paid above the average market compensation and that the county’s current compensation structure was in line with the others. He said the study revealed that 93 percent of the positions were being paid in the appropriate range.

“Overall, from the benchmarks, we were higher,” said Clack.

Clack told members of the Legislative Committee, which approved the new structure, that the plan was overdue and has been in the works for 15 years. But he also said 2008 would be a transition year and the updated Management Pay Plan, as it is called, wouldn’t actually go into effect until January of 2009 because training has to be done and the study’s recommendations have to be installed and enacted.

“We still have some challenges on how we’re going to deal with compensation issues, and there will be an appeal process,” said Clack. “The plan is not cast in stone and we can adjust it.”

The proposed salary structure has 23 employee pay grades across six levels ranging from the administration classification to the executive category. The minimum annual salary at the administration level is $30,309 and the top executive salary is $151,912. The minimum-to-maximum salary range rises at a higher percentage for each level. It starts at 30 percent for the administration level and reaches 55 percent at the executive level.

Clack said the report recommended that the county adjust the middle pay range for each level every year, include merit increases, and have only one employee appraisal day each year.

County Commissioner David Morren asked Clack whether disincentives were in place for employees who don’t fulfill their job obligations. Clack said those workers wouldn’t get a pay increase, and that answer didn’t seem to satisfy Morren.

“I don’t think zeros are a disincentive,” he said.

Commissioners will vote on the new salary structure and 2008 budget Thursday.

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