The Pembroke City Council will hold a called meeting next week to decide whether to adopt a new compensation package and classification system for city employees.
The called meeting is set for 6 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall.
If adopted, the new pay scale could take effect soon. Pembroke is about 12 percent behind other area governments in terms of what it pays its employees, who earn an average of about $26,400 a year, according to the results of a study presented to council members at Monday’s regular meeting at City Hall.
While that’s easier on the city’s operating budget, it could have negative impacts on the city’s ability to recruit and retain quality workers, the council was told by Alex Damon of the University of Georgia’s Carl Vinson Institute of Government.
But Damon also noted a worker’s salary is just part of the overall compensation plan — when benefits such as health insurance and retirement are factored in, the city’s average compensation for each of its employees is boosted to more than $34,200.
Pembroke’s salaries were compared to area governments as well as all industries in areas stretching from Brunswick to Savannah. Pay data was also taken from municipalities such as Garden City, Claxton, Richmond Hill and Statesboro and counties ranging from Bryan and Bulloch, Candler and Chatham to Toombs.
Information was gathered from the Department of Community Affairs, the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the International City/County Management Association, Damon said.
“We looked at what the market is for select positions within your labor market,” Damon said. “You will be competing with cities and counties for similar type positions and we wanted to make sure you’re competitive with other local governments.”
The study took several months to compete and went beyond recommending a pay scale based on job and years worked. It also developed a classification and job description system using the results of questionnaires and interviews with city employees.
The questionnaires asked for each worker’s “major duties to knowledge requirements for their position, to the complexity of their job, to their work environment, to who supervised them and how their work is reviewed, to who they supervised and to what extent they supervised individuals,” Damon said.
“After we received the questionnaires we reviewed the content, met with the department directors and employees to get a better understanding of what each employee was doing and address any classification and compensation concerns they had,” he added.
If adopted, the new pay scale provides for 20 salary grades and 24 “steps.” A proposed salary scale used in Damon’s presentation to city officials Monday night included a starting annual salary of $15,614.57 for the lowest pay grade and a highest starting pay grade of $44,048.92.
The lowest grade increases over 24 steps to $21,991.35 per year while the highest pay grade increases to $62,037.49, an increase of 40 percent over a career, according to Damon.
Neither figure includes the cost of benefits.
“Ideally what you’ll do, each employee will be assigned a grade based on position,” Damon told the council. “They’ll start out at Step A, and throughout their career with the city move from A to B to C to D and so on, based on longevity or performance — depending on what kind of guidelines you want to use.”