How Are County Employees Compensated?

Monroe County Courthouse Under Renovation
Monroe County Courthouse Under Renovation

At this past Tuesday’s Monroe County Council Work Session, we discussed the structure of the county compensation system, in the context of trying to figure out a way to give county employees an increase for the 2015 budget — particularly those at the bottom of the current scale. Many members of the public have expressed interest in this issue, so I thought I would provide some background materials here.

In order to provide the council (and the public) with some background information on the structure of the county’s compensation system, in order to frame the future discussions, I prepared a little presentation on the structure and compensation levels of Monroe County’s compensation policy, which is available here:

In addition, the full report from 2006 from the County’s classification consultant, Waggoner, Irwin, Scheele & Associates, is available here:

The quick takeaways I’d like to leave readers with are the following:

  • The County has, in general, implemented the professional classification system recommended by the consultants
  • County employees have successfully been moved to the external midpoint recommended by the consultants — but not beyond that midpoint. Therefore, county employees are all (with a small number of exceptions) paid in the bottom half of the external range recommended by the consultants
  • Monroe County does not implement any performance-based compensation; therefore, supervisors do not have any tools now to reward high-performing employees

The big outstanding question for me, which requires some data gathering and analysis is: to what degree are the market ranges that were established by the consultant in 2006 still applicable in 2014? While we have over the years provided various cost-of-living adjustments to all of the pay scales, there have been several years in which, due to budget constraints and declining property tax revenue, no COLAs have been provided (the Monroe County Compensation Presentation to Council 2014-05-27) above includes a history of the last 15 years of COLAs) – and several of the recent COLAs have lagged the actual increase in cost of living. So while we may currently meet the midpoint of ranges created in 2006 that was supposed to reflect the actual labor marketplace, to what degree are these ranges now substantially obsolete — and most likely substantially lower the actual labor marketplace.

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