Marion County gets recommendation to increase salaries

The Marion County Commission continued shoring up its policies by reviewing its plans ranging from revisiting who should have vehicles, tuition and con­ferences attended at its Monday meeting.

In addition, representatives of the McGrath Human Resources Group, based in Wonder Lake, Ill., reviewed objectives, and talked about their progress and more recommendations.

Malayna Halvorson Maes, senior consultant, said that in order to get employees where they should be on the pay schedule, it could mean a 3 to 4 percent increase until they are up to the regular salary schedule.

“We are being assertive and aggressive in getting employees up to ‘Step 1,’” she said.

The goal is that in four years, Maes said, all employees should be at the first step, which would then eliminate the “temporary lanes.”

Both Maes and Victoria McGrath, chief executive officer, discussed the proposed salary schedules, elected official salary schedules, cost estimates and request for feedback.

Without offering job titles to accompany the proposed salary schedule structure at the meeting, Maes said their recommendation would be placement on the step closest to an employee’s wage (without a decrease).

The plan, she said, would be to have the schedule begin July 1 with a one percent increase across the board at an estimated cost of $86,000 or $44,000 if the one percent isn’t across the board.

In 2020, movement to the next step, according to the recommendation, and with adequate performance evaluation would be $92,000 with one percent across the board.

That year, Maes explained, the percentage of employees on the temporary steps would be 29 percent. In 2021, the cost would be $90,000 with a one percent across the board raise or $47,000 without it.

By 2022, no employees would be in the temporary step schedule, which would mean those three steps are eliminated.

The cost that year, according to the recommendation, would be $86,000 across the board or $45,000 without everyone receiving a one percent increase.

Concern with mill levy

Commissioner Kent Becker said he keeps thinking about the mill levy with these increases.

As for the costs, Commission chairwoman Dianne Novak said that would be about a $200,000 increase over the four years (without the one percent across the board).

Maes said that in Dodge City, which is another county they are working with, the employees were 30 percent below market.

“Not everyone (county) can take a big hit as it gets phased in,” she said.

One of the reasons for the pay schedule is because sometimes new employees make almost about the same amount of money as an employee who has been with the county for years.

Market vs. wages

Novak also asked what was used for the “benchmark?”

Maes said they met with department heads, and looked at the market to see what organizations they are most aligned with.

Other benchmarks in coming up with the salary schedule, she said, included competitors, other counties with same demographics.

In some cases, the data would show a salary of $50,000, but for a similar job with the county, the pay would be $30,000.

“We looked at the average and did standard deviations (too high or too low averages),” Maes said.

Novak asked: “What is next?”

The next step, Maes said, is to review the information presented, which included the proposed salary schedule, and then to finalize the schedule.

Tightening up policies

Commissioner Randy Dallke said one area that he would like to revisit is how many conferences some of the department heads go to.

“Some of these department heads are gone quite a bit,” he said. “We used to know when someone would be attending a conference.”

Another area involved tuition and the county paying for training. In some situations, the employee has received expensive training and then left, Novak said.

One area in particular that was brought up was with the EMS department and having the county pay for classes.

County counselor Brad Jantz said a lot of counties have experienced the same type of problems.

Some counties put a prohibition on second employment for one or two years.

Other policies included not allowing independent contractors to use facilities owned by the county.

The commission requested Jantz review the policies in place regarding mileage, vehicles, and tuition and it would be discussed at a future meeting.