Tuesday, July 23, 2019 Elyria 67°

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Elyria Council's Finance Committee gets salary study


ELYRIA — A yearlong study of the salaries of more than 50 supervisory positions in city government was released Monday and presented to City Council’s Finance Committee, which approved sending it to full Council for action.

Council members learned that the city could save approximately $52,000 over the next five years by adopting a new salary structure for supervisory positions, eliminating longevity pay and rolling it into base pay. The salary study cost $41,000.

“Overall the city’s pay is really close to the market” rate, said Mike Verdoorn of Gallagher Benefit Services, which conducted the study with assistance from Human Resources Director Claudia Dillinger and Safety Service Director Mary Siwierka and presented the results to the committee Monday.

In February 2018, the city asked Gallagher to conduct the study comparing non-bargaining city jobs with the market rate of pay for similar positions. Such a study has “never been done before,” Siwierka told the committee.

“This is a big change,” she said. “We’re going from ‘The Flintstones’ to ‘The Jetsons,’” in terms of a comprehensive salary review and policy, she said.

The new classification structure increases the number of salary “steps” for certain non-bargaining supervisory employees, and eliminates “longevity” pay, “which is no longer considered feasible in current-day pay structures,” according to a summary of the study.

Eliminating longevity pay also “provides a future for current staff who do not have additional steps in the current pay structure,” according to the summary.

“Longevity in 20 years won’t help you,” Siwierka said.

Other changes in the near future will involve rules governing vacation and compensatory, or “comp” time, the creation of a personnel manual and job descriptions the city has gone without, she said. Those will be brought before the Finance Committee at a later date, Siwierka said.

Mayor Holly Brinda said the study was needed because the city is having trouble filling some jobs, such as chief building official, economic development director and some engineering posts, and retaining employees due to competitive job markets and low pay in comparison to other cities and private employers.

“Many managers have stuck with us despite inequities” in pay, she said. “I think this is really going to help us.”

Once all the pieces of the new salary schedule are in place and have City Council’s approval, the rates will be made retroactive to Jan. 1 this year, Finance Director Ted Pileski said.

Gallagher also will do a yearly review of further changes at no charge to the city “to make sure we are on target and on point,” Siwierka said.

Elyria compared its pay with that of the cities of Alliance, Cuyahoga Falls, Lakewood, Mansfield, Marion, Mentor, Norwalk, Parma and Strongsville, as well as the counties of Lorain, Cuyahoga, Erie and Medina, provided in voluntary survey responses.

City Council in December approved a 5 percent raise for certain nonbargaining, non-union employees, typically referred to as “Chapter 165” employees for the city code governing their positions.

Councilman Jack Baird, R-at large, called the changes “a very good system.”

“This will work to our benefit and be fair to everyone,” he said.

Contact Dave O’Brien at (440) 329-7129 or do’brien@chroniclet.com. Follow him at @daveobrienCT on Twitter.

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