News and Tribune

March 29, 2013

Wage study for Jeffersonville returned

New pay grades, rates offered; legal department may lose position

By BRADEN LAMMERS
braden.lammers@newsandtribune.com

JEFFERSONVILLE — The city of Jeffersonville would reduce its number of pay grades from 16 to 10 and consider other salary structure changes if it adopts findings of a study presented this week.

A wage study undertaken by Elizabeth Gross, owner of ParkLand HR Services LLC, was designed to review Jeffersonville’s current payment policy and offer suggestions on how to make improvements to the system. The wage scale and salary policy, which is supposed to be reviewed every two years, was compared to other cities of similar size in Indiana and Bureau of Labor of Statistics figures, she said. It was presented Wednesday to the Jeffersonville City Council.

 

SUGGESTED CHANGES

One recommendation was to reduce the number of pay grades in the city from its current structure of 16 to 10 and to expand the pay ranges within those classifications. The ranges of salaries — from the lowest amount at the lowest pay grade to the highest possible pay at the highest pay grade — range from $21,420 to $136,000. Pay raises were also suggested for specific employees to be commensurate with their role and responsibility.

Gross said the review helped to “identify and adjust pay levels for key staff whose pay is significantly lower than you would expect based on their job performance, market value of the job and their years on the job.”

Four jobs that were identified included the animal shelter director, director of human resources, assistant director of wastewater and the city engineer.

New language was also suggested, “to ensure that no one individual can exercise too broad a scope to determine individual pay increases during a rolling 12-month period, the president of the city council or the vice president, in the absence of the president ... will direct a review of any employee pay rate change that would provide a pay increase of 7 percent, or $5,000,” Gross said.

In addition, an approval would need to be granted to place a new hire above the first 25 percent in the pay grade that they were hired for, or if an employee were placed above the 50 percent point in a pay grade for a job change.

Among other changes offered was a review of the longevity pay plan for city employees and to convert salaried nonexempt employees to hourly nonexempt classification. The nonexempt class means that the employee is not exempt from being paid overtime if they work more than 40 hours a week.

 

STAFF REDUCTIONS?

Another change that was being considered Wednesday was staffing related to the city’s legal department. Corporation Attorney Tom Lowe recently resigned and City Attorney Les Merkley said the idea is that his position would not be replaced if the proposal were approved.

If the changes were approved, Merkley would become the city’s corporation attorney — it is required by state statute that a second-class city has a corporation attorney — and the city attorney position would remain vacant. To help maintain the workload, a paralegal would be hired to assist Merkley.

However, currently a job listing has been posted for a new attorney.

The move, if approved, is expected to save the city about $25,000, said City Controller Amy Dearing.

But the bulk of the discussions around the potential move were related to how Merkley is being paid. Funding for Merkley is partially being paid through the city’s redevelopment department. 

The rationale behind the redevelopment commission paying Merkley out of their fund is that he is acting as the redevelopment commission’s attorney on a part-time basis instead of billing them an hourly rate. 

The redevelopment commission does have the ability to hire its own legal counsel, which would likely bill on an hourly basis.

Merkley said that redevelopment commissions in similar-size cities pay about $50,000 to attorneys when they are billed hourly.

No decision on the proposed changes was made Wednesday and will likely be addressed at the council’s Monday meeting.