Council approves pay plan to make city jobs competitive

By: By Katelin Gandee - Staff reporter

LAURINBURG — Laurinburg municipal salaries should be closer to what other towns pay following a vote Tuesday by the Laurinburg City Council.

The newly approved $36.1 million budget will include $432,607 to adjust city salaries. Laurinburg currently spends about $5.7 million to pay employees.

City leaders selected the classification and compensation plan after initiating a study by Springsted Incorporated of Mechanicsville VA., last year to help bring wages closer in line to other municipalities of similar size.

“We do want tot keep our good employee and this will help,” said Councilwoman Mary Evans Tuesday night.

The Springsted study surveyed 19 public agencies based on demographics, comparable levels of services and proximity to Laurinburg. Some of the agencies include Henderson,Goldsboro,Raeford, Pinecrest,Southern Pines and Scotland County.

The study found that the current salaries of Laurinburg municipal workers are slightly lower than those of other government workers in the region. The city’s average minimum salaries are a percent lower than the survey average; the midpoint salaries are 1.71 percent below average; and the maximum salary levels are 2.53 percent below the average, the study said.

“In today’s economy, it is imperative to remain competitive,” the study said. “A city must ensure market adjustments are provided to the salary scale to maintain the city competitive position when resources are available.

“Salaries paid to city employees are for the most part somewhat lower that the average salary rates paid in comparable organizations.”

The plan gave the city three options for increasing pay, market comparability and competitiveness.

The first option came at a cost of $98,343 and would simply move employees up to a proposed salary. Currently, around 24 percent of employees are paid below minimum proposed salary ranges.

The second option would bring employee salaries to a proposed pay grade and would increase with time of service. This option will have an impact on nearly all of the city’s employees and will be based on a 32-year career. The employee will have a midpoint and maximum salary options for their pay grade, hitting the midpoint salary at year 13 and reaching a maximum by year 29. Option two’s price tag was $271,446.93.

The third option — and the one selected by council — is almost identical to the second option, but offers an accelerated scale movement.

Employees are either placed within a pay grade higher than the current salary or there will be a service-based step calculated at one step per year of service. The employees will hit their midpoint pay by year nine of service and will hit a maximum at year 17.

According to city Human Resources Director Betty Galloway, the current system makes it harder to move up the different steps of a 17-level pay scale.

“Currently its based on if there is a certificate or classification and its up to department heads,” Galloway said. “So we could have someone who has worked here for years, who is only on a step two but someone who came in a year ago is just gets bumped up to a two.”

Steve Miner, the vice president of Springsted, believes the third option is the fairest to the employees.

“Option three will probably do more for the people who have been promoted up and haven’t been in their current positions for a long time,” he said.

Miner hopes changing how the people move through the pay steps will keep employees working for the city since the average years of service are 5.4.

“When you lose an employee you’re losing experience and time when you have to train someone new to do the job,” Miner said. “You also have to spend money find someone to fill the position by putting out ads and everything.”

By Katelin Gandee

Staff reporter

Reach Katelin Gandee at 910-506-3171

Reach Katelin Gandee at 910-506-3171