Kure Beach Conducts Pay Study; Council To Discuss At Future Meetings

Kure Beach Conducts Pay Study; Council To Discuss At Future Meetings Featured

By / Local News / Wednesday, 25 February 2015 05:00

By WILLARD KILLOUGH III
Managing Editor

KURE BEACH - The Town of Kure Beach has completed a pay study comparing employee pay to that of other neighboring communities.
The study was conducted by Town Clerk Nancy Avery and Finance Officer Arlen Copenhaver and recommends changing the salary structure from 32 "pay grades" to a new "Salary Band Structure" that consists of three pay grades.
The study compared Town employee pay to data gathered from the 2014 North Carolina League of Municipalities salary study and the 2013 North Carolina Department of Labor salary study. Those sources were used to determine the "prevailing rate of pay - Benchmark Market Rate)" that reflects the cost of living and employment rate for towns with similar population and a summer resort component as well as similar duties to those in Kure Beach. Also, for employers who directly compete with the Town for the same or similar pool of workers with specific job skills.
Information was taken from 13 towns including the City of Wilmington even though its population, tax base and staffing is larger, it hires people from the same geographic pool of potential employees.
Town's included were Atlantic Beach, Ocean Isle Beach, Bald Head Island, Pine Knoll Shores, Beaufort, Southport, Carolina Beach, Swansboro, Holden Beach, Topsail Beach, Nags Head, Oak Island and Wrightsville Beach.
Of the 32 existing pay grades, 39 employees are only assigned to 12 of those grades.
The study was only for the 39 "full time equivalent" staff positions.
For example, the study found that compared to other Towns, not including Wilmington, the current pay grade of 19 for "Town Clerk & Office Manager, Finance/Budget Officer, Police Captain" is -9.50 % below the market rate using a current salary figure of $63,081 compared to data from other Towns at $69,706.
For pay grade 11, which covers "Public Works Technician", when compared to other towns included in the study, the pay is 17.92% above Market Rate.
The Study indicates inequities exist most likely due to no cost of living (COLA) raises in 2009, 2010 and 2011. Also, 34 of the 39 employees have 10 years or less of service. The study states, "They would have been hired below Benchmark Market Rate based on a minimum hiring salary that didn't keep up with the market changes" and "Salaries would have stagnated due to no COLA" adding that more recent hires were likely hired with pay closer to that market rate.
The study states, "Findings presented here are the best comparison we could determine. This type of study is not an exact science due to numerous variables."
Overall, two of the pay grades are 1 to 5% below market. Three are 6 to 10% below market and one pay grade is 16 to 20% below market. That position is for the Fire Chief at $11,894 below the Benchmark Market Rate set in the study.
According to the study:
• 5 employees have 11+ years service (12.82%)
• 15 employees have 5 – 10  years of service (38.46%)
• 19 employees have 0 – 4 years of service  (48.72%)
• 22 employees have been hired within the last 5 years (56.41%)
• 9 employees have retired since 2006
• Anticipate 5 employees retiring in next 5 years
The study poses three questions:
• Do we want to lag behind the market? If so, how far? Does it apply to all pay grades or only certain ones?
• Do we want to meet the market?
• Do we want to exceed the market?
The study states that $20,586 brings Department Heads up to the Benchmark Market Rate while $83,838 brings non-Department Head level employees to the Benchmark Market Rate.
A total of $104,424 brings all employees to the Benchmark Market Rate.
The study also compared the salaries of elected officials to the same Town's used for comparison of employee pay, but makes no recommendations.
The current salary structure was adopted by Council in 2001 and consists of 32 pay grades with only 12 pay grades having employees assigned to them. 21 pay grades are not utilized and each pay grade has 18 ‘steps’ between the minimum and maximum salary range.
The proposal in the study is to switch to a new system consisting of three salary bands rather than 32 pay grades allowing a wider range of minimum to maximum salary.
The study states, "Salary bands recognize career growth where there are fewer promotional opportunities.
24 of the 39 full time equivalent (FTE) positions are contained within 3 of the 32 pay grades."
The study proposes the new "band" system is less cumbersome and restrictive when job descriptions and titles change and less administrative time is needed to manage and maintain it. Also, it allows greater latitude in hiring an experienced employee at a higher salary without fear of exceeding maximum salary for that grade.
The study states it's, "Easier for managers to place and assign employees based on similar skill requirements. Provides managers the flexibility to reward a star performer, even when they aren’t getting promoted to a different title. Typical pay grade has 40% difference in pay between minimum and maximum. Salary bands have 100% difference."
At their February 17th, meeting the Town Council requested the Town Clerk email them a copy of the study and they will consider it during their upcoming workshops when planning for the 2015-2016 budget which begins July 1st.


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