Columbus budgets employee-salary study

Firm chosen to evaluate local government pay scales, $50,000 allocated for project

A McCordsville company specializing in employee compensation is beginning a five-month study evaluating Columbus city government salaries and pay scales.

Columbus Board of Works members on Tuesday approved contracts with Total Rewards Solutions to pay $33,250 for a study of employee pay from the general fund and $12,675 for a study of city public safety employees’ pay.

The city’s parks board and utilities board will consider contracts for the study of their employee pay scales, with parks spending $11,325 and utilities spending $15,225 for the consultants’ work, said Jackson Sargent, city human resources department assistant director.

The city has completed updating job descriptions for city employees that will be used in the evaluation rather than just using job titles, said Jamie Brinegar, city finance director.

Consultants will be using a list of peer cities for the study, comparing Columbus city employee salaries to those offered in Jeffersonville, Greenwood, Kokomo, Noblesville, Terre Haute, Bloomington, New Albany and Lafayette.

The selection of those cities took into consideration cost-of-living considerations, as they share similar characteristics with Columbus, Sargent said.

Columbus did a salary study in 1993 and again in 2008, but the results of the 2008 study were not implemented, Brinegar said.

He also told the board of works members that results from the new study many not result in an immediate change to the city’s salary schedule, but something that might be implemented more gradually, perhaps over a three- to five-year period to moderate the effect on the city budget.

The Columbus City Council approved 1.5 percent raises for this year for employees and elected officials over the objection of several local residents and some council members.

City employees have received 2 percent raises each of the past three years after receiving 3 percent raises in 2012 and 2013, city records show.

Councilman Frank Miller voted against the raises for 2017, saying the cost-of-living increase calculated by the city was higher than national trends and that fixed-income Columbus residents weren’t receiving a raise. City councilwoman Laurie Booher also voted against the raises.

The city budgeted $50,000 for the wage study, keeping a promise made by Mayor Jim Lienhoop that the city’s salary ordinance would be reviewed to determine if employees were being compensated fairly. The city has more than 400 employees, Sargent said.

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Julie McClure is assistant managing editor of The Republic. She can be reached at jmcclure@therepublic.com or (812) 379-5631.