A ‘step’ toward higher pay for city employees

Published 6:33 pm Tuesday, April 12, 2022

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After more than a year in development, Suffolk City Council unanimously approved a compensation and classification plan and adopted step plans for city employees designed to make their pay more competitive with other Hampton Roads localities and help retain and recruit them.

The plans are based on a compensation study council approved last May.

Implementing the compensation study and step plans will cost $1.6 million for the rest of the current fiscal year, which ends June 30. For fiscal 2023, which begins July 1, it will cost an additional $8.4 million.

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The plans were approved as part of council’s April 6 consent agenda and took effect the following day. City employees will see their revised pay beginning with their second paychecks this month.

“This is no small deal,” said Mayor Mike Duman. “To have a compensation plan with this methodology that compensates all our employees with a step plan, we are leading the region. There is no one else in Hampton Roads that has done this. … Everyone will have to catch up to our methodology of how we plan to compensate our employees. So it has put us in a position where we can really attract and retain good employees now and in the future.”

Council had, in February, compromised on a compensation plan for city employees, resulting in step plans, regular pay increases and a citywide minimum wage of $15 per hour.

City Manager Al Moor had recommended a plan that had the same 2.5% incremental pay increase for city employees with a 50% credit for time of service and 50% credit for time in their current position.

A pair of 4-4 votes at that time had derailed two different compensation plans for city employees before council voted 6-2 in favor of a plan that provides a 2.5% incremental pay increase and a 60% credit for time of service.


Step plans have been put in place for all full-time, non-grant funded employees, except for department heads, appointees and elected officials. Employees will be placed within the plans with consideration of time for continuous, full-time service with the city at a 60% rate.

All part-time employees will either receive a minimum 2.5% cost-of-living adjustment or be adjusted to the minimum of their new pay range in the amended fiscal 2022 compensation and classification plan.

The study also recommended salary adjustments for appointees and constitutional officers to make their pay comparable to others holding such positions in the Hampton Roads region.

For council appointees, their annual gross salaries will be:

  • City manager: $215,250 (previous salary: $205,000)
  • City attorney: $189,263 (previous salary: $180,250)
  • City clerk: $101,497 (previous salary: $92,270)
  • City real estate assessor: $139,072 ($131,200)

For constitutional officers, their annual gross salaries will be:

  • Clerk of the Circuit Court: $160,000 (previous salary: $153,752)
  • Commissioner of the revenue: $145,000 ($118,851)
  • Commonwealth’s attorney: $191,564 ($186,892)
  • General registrar: $103,065 (previous salary: $103,065)
  • Sheriff: $142,000 (previous salary: $135,000)
  • Treasurer: $165,000 (previous salary: $142,559)

City staff said one of the main goals of the study was to address compression, in which little difference exists in pay among employees who have different skills and experience levels.

The impetus of the plans, expanded to include all city employees, was a call from first responders to increase their pay as a way to boost retention and attract quality people.