It appears the idea of conducting a pay study for county employees is losing momentum, as two county commissioners say that now may not be the best time for it.
For the past couple of months county commissioners have discussed updating the employee pay plan that is about 15 years old.
But even though county officials say that the compensation plan is out of date, two commissioners seem to have abandoned the idea of having the pay system studied.
Lack of Support
First District County Commissioner Tim Brinker appears to be the most supportive of still going forward with the plan update.
Brinker said he expects hiring an outside firm to review the pay system will likely be the best route to go.
Employee job descriptions, which impact how much an employee is paid, may need to be updated to reflect staff reductions and technological innovations, Brinker added.
Finding a firm that specializes in governmental pay is the easy part, Brinker said, adding that finding the money to pay for the study is difficult.
It may be best to get the cost of the study identified first and then look at funding it in six months to a year, Brinker said.
Brinker said he does not think the idea is dead and that the county commissioners owe it to the taxpayers and employees to make sure the pay plan is up to date.
But Presiding County Commissioner John Griesheimer said he is now beginning to have doubts about conducting an employee pay study at this time.
Griesheimer said the next step may be for the county commissioners to meet with department heads to decide whether a pay study should be conducted or not.
If the county could spend a minimal amount of money, he said he could possibly support it. Griesheimer said he does not want to spend a lot of money having it done.
Second District County Commissioner Mike Schatz said he thinks it is a good idea to conduct a pay study but now may not be the best time.
Schatz questions the value of doing a pay study when the county will not have the money to fund raises that a study may recommend.
For instance, Schatz said it could be demoralizing to employees if the study stated that they were worth $2,000 more a year but the county could not afford to give the raise.
If there was a motion on the county commission to do a pay study, Schatz said he would probably vote against it.
It is better to wait until the economy improves so the county could fund recommendations from a pay study, Schatz said.
It is hard to say when the county’s fiscal picture will improve, Schatz said, adding that sales tax revenue is not showing enough growth right now.
Griesheimer agreed with Schatz that there is little value in doing the study if the county can’t afford to implement the findings of it.
Griesheimer had hoped that the East-West Gateway Council of Governments in St. Louis could help the county with a pay study.
But he has now learned that the East-West Gateway no longer does such compensation plan reviews.
When he learned that East-West Gateway could not conduct the study, Griesheimer said the “wind went out of my sails” in terms of moving forward with the pay plan update.
Griesheimer said he is skeptical about hiring a private company to conduct a pay study, adding that he would question the reliability of the results.