The city of Dothan will likely restructure its pay scale soon to better recruit and retain employees after a pay study revealed some positions were below market averages in comparable cities.
A Georgia-based consulting agency, in coordination with city goals, recommends raising the minimum starting salary for many positions as well as boosting the salary for seasonal employees and providing a range based on experience.
City Manager Kevin Cowper said he initiated the pay study from Condrey and Associates to ensure that salaries were competitive, with an emphasis on public safety personnel at the city commission’s request.
“Part of what I’m trying to accomplish as city manager is to build a high-performing organization with a purpose to provide excellent customer service,” Cowper said. “This pay scale will help us recruit and retain individuals who are dedicated, who are creative and innovative, and ensure they are well-equipped and well-trained. I’m committed to building a team committed to public service.”
Before this, the city commissioned its last pay study in 2003, but Cowper said the organization has done a good job of evaluating its pay each year to match inflation.
Condrey and Associates recommended a new compensation plan based on the city’s objective to be more competitive in certain hard-to-fill areas that establishes 29 pay ranges by grouping together positions with similar skills, qualifications, and experience levels.
For some positions, the fair market earnings were not adequate to be competitive or to provide livable wages, Cowper said, so the minimum range was increased for those positions, such as IT professionals, police and fire professionals, call-takers and dispatcher, utility workers, maintenance workers, and custodial staff, among others.
The annualized cost to implement classification changes proposed by the plan is approximately $985,806 or 1.94% of current payroll costs.
The plan also recommends giving some employees a one-time equity adjustment, based on years of experience, to offset pay compression caused by increasing minimum pay ranges.
Employees with two to five years of service would be given a 1% pay increase, while employees with more than five years of service would be given a 2% pay increase.
The proposed equity adjustment would cost $839,167 annually or 1.65% of current payroll costs. In total, it would cost the city $2.4 million annually.
The classification and pay study was expected to complete earlier this year, but was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact.
The recommended plan would remain within budgetary confines and implementation costs are a budgeted expense in the Fiscal Year 2021 budget.
“We’re proud to be in a position that we can do this study and offer a compensation structure that is very competitive in the region,” Cowper said.
The recommended plan will be on the Aug. 4 city commission agenda for consideration as well as the August 10 personnel board agenda. If approved, city employees will see increases in their September paychecks.
Periodic maintenance of the pay plan is recommended to ensure the pay plan remains consistent with the market.