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City Council briefed on compensation plan

Human Resources Director Robin Wynn provided Suffolk City Council with an outline of how the city will address its compensation study and its areas of focus.

During the June 2 council work session, Wynn said the city has issued a request for proposals, the window for them closing June 24.

Wynn told council that compensation should be among the most transparent areas of human resources. She said other primary focuses would be on having employees achieve key business objectives, attracting and retaining quality employees and motivating them to achieve high performance levels.

Other goals for a new compensation plan would be to improve overall quality and increase productivity and efficiency and stimulate creative thinking and problem solving.

“For us, our starting point as we continue, or as we publish work on this compensation study, our starting point is certainly going to be to analyze where we are as it relates to the market,” Wynn said. “And then, what are some of the things that we can do to make sure that we are competitive within the market.”

When the study is complete, the city will redesign its compensation program, at City Manager Al Moor’s direction, to make sure that it is transparent, functional and fair to all employees as the city puts in place a new plan.

After council approved the study last month, she said the city looked at piggybacking on a similar, open study from another locality that was searching for the same type of information that Suffolk is looking for. However, the city did not find one.

Wynn provided a loose guideline in defining a compensation step plan, outlining that it is a salary scale that incrementally increases employee pay through a salary range related to their job titles. She said the study would also, ultimately, define exempt positions.

She said a key goal of the study would be to address compression, in which little difference appears in pay between employees who have different skill sets and experience levels. Wynn said the city would likely need to have different step plans for different departments such as fire, public safety, public works and public utilities, though which departments, and how many of them, would fall under a step plan and what would be exempt would be determined after the study is completed.

Wynn said the previous Evergreen study done while former City Manager Patrick Roberts was working for the city was looking at what other localities were doing about step plans, but was not about a step plan itself. She and Moor said there would be a cross-section of departments represented in the study, and that she would keep council updated on the progress of the study and plan.

Mayor Mike Duman said the new plan needs to consider benefits as part of the compensation study and ensure they are in line with other localities.

Councilman Roger Fawcett said compression issues must be handled, in particular ones in which lower ranking staff members make as much or more than those with more experience.

“How you reel that in is something I’m going to look at,” Fawcett said.

Fawcett said he hopes to see a plan before the end of the year, as city employees are watching.

“This is a wound we’re going to keep putting a Band-Aid on until it heals,” Fawcett said.