First District County Commissioner Tim Brinker

After two county commissioners last week said that the idea of conducting an employee pay study may be losing momentum, the concept was reignited Thursday.

In a work session, county commissioners decided to start looking for firms to do the study.

Commissioners plan to bring in three or four firms for interviews to see what the companies can offer and for what cost.

But taking these preliminary steps does not mean that it is a sure thing that the county will have the pay study done. The commissioners are simply exploring the idea.

The county commissioners have discussed updating the 15-year-old employee pay plan for months. The goal is to bring the plan up to date with current market conditions.

Presiding County Commissioner John Griesheimer said part of a study could involve comparing Franklin County’s pay levels to other counties of similar size in the region.

County employees have not had an across-the-board pay raise since 2008.

Commissioner Mike Schatz said he thinks employees deserve a raise, especially a cost of living adjustment to keep up with the price of gas and food.

However, Schatz and Commissioner Tim Brinker also said that employees should be grateful that they have a job, noting that some private sector employees have been laid off.

“The thing that all employees of the county need to realize is that they are employed first and foremost,” Brinker said.

Schatz also noted that the county has a strong benefits package.

Griesheimer said it may be a good idea to see if the county can do some of the pay plan in-house, such as updating job descriptions to reflect what employees are actually doing.

But Brinker is skeptical about the county doing part of the study in-house. A professional firm with expertise in governmental pay is better equipped to conduct the study, he said.

“They are the professionals at this; we are not,” Brinker said. “The first step is admitting that.”

Griesheimer and Schatz last week said they were losing interest in doing the pay study at this time because of a lack of funding.

Last week, Schatz said he was not opposed to doing a pay study but said this is not the best time since the county does not have money to give raises anyway.

On Thursday, he said it will not hurt to get some cost estimates to see what a study may cost.

“The study would not be a waste,” Schatz said. “It would yield some interesting information.”

Schatz is still skeptical of a pay study, saying instead of spending the money on the review, the county could give those funds to the employees.

Griesheimer said it depends on what the study will cost in terms of whether he will support having it done.

Brinker said he plans to contact the Missouri Association of Counties and other first-class counties in the state to see if they can help identify firms that the county could use for the study.

“Different counties in the state of Missouri have different pay plans and different structures as to how they implement their pay,” Brinker said.