Of the county’s 745 employees, 361 will see salary adjustments, said George Zoettlein, assistant county administrator of budget and business development. Roughly 75 percent of those employees make less than $50,000, he said.
Zoettlein and his staff will spend the next several weeks determining where employees fall in a classification scale to see if they will get a full 4 percent adjustment or less.
“Nobody will see a decrease in their salary,” he said.
The salaries of higher-paid managers and supervisors will likely stay the same, Zoettlein said.
County commissioners agreed that to attract high-quality employees, they need to adjust pay.
“Our salaries just aren’t competitive,” said County Commissioner Nick Nicholson.
Hernando County paid $65,000 for Tallahassee-based Evergreen Solutions to do a classification and compensation study of all positions in the organization, including four of the five elected constitutional officers’ positions. The sheriff’s office was not included in the study.
The raises will take effect Sept. 29, the first day of the new 2014-15 fiscal year pay period.
Zoettlein said he did not know yet how much the pay increases will cost the county. For the first year, the money will come from money paid into the county’s paid-time-off buy-back program.
County Commissioner Wayne Dukes told Zoettlein to come up with options on how to fund the salary adjustments after the first year.
“I want a long-term plan on how we’re going to afford this,” Dukes said.
Adrienne Johnston, a manager of Evergreen Solutions, said during Tuesday’s meeting that her company compared Hernando County workers to other public sector companies. Evergreen included 27 market peers responding to 50 benchmark job titles. The study considered several factors, including geographic proximity and population size.
Of the roughly 25 salary studies Johnston has been involved in, all have resulted in recommended changes due to salaries that were not in line with peers, Johnston told Dukes.
Dukes said generally, such studies always manage to find wage disparities and that is a concern. However, he agreed with his colleagues that “if we’re not doing the right thing, we should do it.”
Hernando County’s last compensation study was done in 2007. That report, performed by the Mercer consulting firm, found employee salaries lagged far behind their peers and recommended large pay hikes.