County Board approves plans to pay employees, board membersDouglas County adopted two proposals that will change the way employees and board supervisors alike are paid.
By: Shelley Nelson, Superior Telegram
Douglas County adopted two proposals that will change the way employees and board supervisors alike are paid.
After nearly a year of work to study market salaries and wages, the Douglas County Board will proceed with a plan to ensure its employees are paid the same as others in similar fields. The plan includes going from a contract-based management plan, eliminated in the wake of Act 10, to a performance-based management strategy. Raises would be based on merit under the plan.
The board also adopted a $10 increase in the stipend paid for board members to attend committee meetings. Regular committee members would receive $35 and committee chairpersons would receive $45 for meetings they attend.
The increase for board members goes into effect after the April election and doesn’t include an increase in the county’s monthly salary for supervisors, $200.
Supervisor Mary Lou Bergman, who voted against the measure Oct. 8 during an Executive Committee meeting, said she would still rather see county employees — who haven’t gotten a raise in about four years — receive one before the county board does. Supervisor Marv Finendale agreed.
“I appreciated the thought behind this resolution,” Finendale said. “And I understand it, but I’m kind of like where Mary Lou is on it — not giving ourselves a raise before we give the county people a raise.”
While it’s been a few years since county employees received a raise, Supervisor Sue Hendrickson said it was 1990 when the county board last received a raise.
“We are going to be incurring some extra expenses now when the iPads come out, and I thought this was one way to help this process along,” Hendrickson said. She said unlike the salary the board receives, members have to show up at a meeting to get the stipend.
“If we want people to take these offices, we have to be able to offer them something,” Hendrickson said.
The increase is expected to cost about $5,000.
Another plan before the board Thursday will address employee pay for public workers in Douglas County.
After a nearly year-long study, the Board adopted a plan to address how the county pays its employees.
“It’s the end of the beginning,” County Administrator Andy Lisak said of the pay plan presented to the county board. He said while the consultant has concluded the study to determine where Douglas County employees compare to the market in terms of wages, there is still work to do to implement the plan.
“What’s happened since Act 10 — it was such a controversial piece of legislation — so transformed the employee relations world,” said Charlie Carlson of Carlson Dettman Consultants, which conducted the pay study. He said the goal behind the plan is to treat employees fairly throughout the county.
Prior to Act 10, public employee pay was determined by looking at how other public employees were paid. However, now the private sector wage market is included in determining what is fair pay.
Findings of the study revealed that the county was close to market, although some supervisory and professional salaries fell short of market rates.
The Board accepted the plan to bring salaries in line with market wages.
“The next thing that will happen in the process … we will immediately convene an appeal process,” Carlson said. He said over subsequent months, the county will have to develop a strategy for determining how performance reviews are done and merit raises are earned.
The plan is expected to cost the county about $141,000, said Finance Director Ann Doucette. She said those costs are included in the 2014 proposed budget that will be considered by the Board on Oct. 29. The meeting starts at 6 p.m. in the Government Center Board Room.