County Employee Pay May Be Studied Soon

Franklin County may soon hire a firm to study employee wages, Presiding County Commissioner John Griesheimer said Monday.

The compensation system used by the county is outdated as it has not been updated since it was implemented in 1997, officials say.

County commissioners recently met with department heads about problems with the pay system.

At that meeting, Griesheimer said he would contact the East-West Gateway Council of Governments in St. Louis to see if that organization could help develop solutions.

But since then Griesheimer has learned that East-West Gateway will likely be unable to conduct the pay review.

The East-West Gateway Council of Governments has not done a comprehensive pay survey since the 1990s, and therefore will be unable to do such a study now, said the agency’s spokesman, D.J. Wilson.

Wilson added that East-West Gateway is not set up to do such a study, adding that it would be time-consuming and expensive.

However, Griesheimer said East-West Gateway could possibly provide him with the name of a firm that could review the county’s pay system.

Correcting the problems will require an organization with expertise in employee pay plans, Griesheimer said.

He added that he thinks the study would be too specialized to be done in-house by the county. The county has 337 employees, and 299 of them are full time. The rest are part-time or temporary workers

Department heads may not know what their employees should be paid when compared to other counties, Griesheimer said.

He said he would like to see the pay study done this year, adding that he would not mind starting the review as soon as possible.

Griesheimer said he does not know what the study may cost, but he said the commissioners could work with the county auditor to seek money in the budget. However, he said he does not know how much the county can afford to spend on a pay study.

The Washington City Council last week endorsed a plan to update the city’s employee compensation plan. The council asked city staff to prepare a contract with a firm called Public Service Personnel Consultants based in Tempe, Ariz.

According to an estimate from the company, the cost of conducting the city pay study will not exceed $11,500.

The city of Washington has about 135 employees, and about 120 are full time while the other 15 are part-time.

City of Washington officials say the municipal pay plan needs to be updated because it has been in place for more than 10 years. The county’s pay system is about 15 years old.

Even if the county can’t afford to give raises, there is still value in doing a pay study to give the county a plan for the future, Griesheimer said.

Meanwhile, county employees are reportedly angry because they are being asked to do more work without raises. The last time an across-the-board pay raise was given was 2008.

Griesheimer has said that he thinks employees are underpaid and that they may quit their jobs with the county once hiring picks up in other areas.

A big problem is that the county’s step-and-grade employee classification system has not been followed correctly, and this has caused it to become “out of whack,” County Counselor Mark Vincent has said.