“I’m not comfortable with approving to implement this, I would much rather move this on to the council without approving it,” said Alderperson Jeremy Slowinski, District 6.
The proposed pay plan could potentially freeze or “red-circle” some city employee’s full compensation – salaries/wages, benefits and paid time off – indefinitely while simultaneously giving significant raises to others who are vastly underpaid.
The current city pay plan was designed by Carlson Dettmann Consulting firm, which the council hired again for drafting the proposed plan.
The Carlson Dettmann team researched employee comparables across a range of both public and private employers, taking into consideration the types of jobs and their responsibilities.
“One of the strategic plans of this study was to design a pay plan that would cover as many employees as possible in a fair and equitable way,” said Charlie Carlson of Carlson Dettmann. “It is a major study, covers about 130 employees and over $6 million in payroll.”
“What we bring to the process is an objective point of view and my intent is to provide my 40 years of experience evaluating city jobs in the state of Wisconsin and comparing them to the data in order to make a decision on how these jobs should rate relative to their comparables,” he said.
Through complex statistical analysis, Carlson Dettmann Consulting found that some of Stevens Point’s municipal employees are paid significantly less than the average rates for comparable jobs than the private and public sectors combined, while other employees are paid much higher than the average.
During the Monday meeting, Steve Louis, Department of Public Works, pointed out that some of his team members made less an hour than similar departments in Wausau, Marshfield and Wisconsin Rapids, but their wages we’re “red-circled.”
“How is that fair?” he asked.
Charlie Carlson of Carlson Dettmann Consulting said they may well make less than some other municipalities in Wisconsin, but those numbers don’t include medical benefit compensation or private sector wages.
“That is a policy question only (the council) can resolve, whether you are going to use private sector data or not and that’s going to determine your policy,” said Carlson.
“We have some people ‘red-circled’ as a result of this study, but not cut,” Carlson said. “That is the only thing I am rigid about, no pay cuts.”
“I know there are a lot of challenging issues you are facing here, the “red-circling” does cause some anxiety, but one of the things I think you can’t lose sight of is that there are 130 employees in this pay plan, a lot more than the last one, and there are a lot of employees that should not be put on hold,” said David Schleihs, president of the Stevens Point Police and Fire Commission. “There are a lot of people who are underpaid and even if the pay plan gets accepted, will still be below the average.”
“The point was brought up that a lot of managers and supervisors are on this, it’s because they are the furthest away from fairness,” he said.
Additionally, if an employee is “red-circled,” it doesn’t mean there is no chance of a pay increase. The job may be re-evaluated in the market and the averages may change.
The pay plan is structured so that the most underpaid will see salary and wage increases more frequently than those closer to their comparable averages.
For example, the director of public works makes approximately $18,000 less a year than the bottom step of the pay plan, which is 20 percent less than the average pay for equitable jobs in the public and private sector. Therefore, under the proposed pay plan, the position would receive the $18,000 salary increase next year with additional annual increases to bring it closer to the average.
“There are some who are considerably under the minimum and are by default significantly lower than comparable positions, those positions are being appropriately compensated,” said Mayor Andrew Halverson. “There are some significant changes to some positions but I believe they are very warranted.”
Alternatively, other employees are closer to the average compensation and would see salary adjustments every two or three years, depending on how close to the average they are.
“We have a great deal of those who are paid less than the minimum salary, the pay plan corrects that,” said Halverson. “This also recognizes that there are many within the city that are making beyond the maximum in this proposed pay plan as well.”
In addition to the salary adjustments, the pay plan recommends a health insurance premium holiday for the months of October, November and December of 2014. Thsat means employees on the city health plan won’t have to pay for it during those months. Employees who have opted out of the health plan will still receive an annual subsidy of $200 to $750.
“We recognize that in this pay plan there are some folks who either won’t move for quite some time or who might not move as far as they thought they might have moved,” Halverson said. “We wanted to keep things fair and not make anyone feel like they have been left out.”
“Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water, there is no management pay plan that is perfect for everybody,” said Schleihs. “Don’t treat a bunch of employees unfairly because of the concerns of a few.”
“It’s important we do something, I think you owe it to all the employees,” said Kevin Ruder, chief of police. “Yes, look at some of the labor positions, but we can’t just be sitting here spinning our wheels.”
The proposed pay plan will be up for Common Council consideration Monday, Nov. 18.