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Montgomery staff salary schedule questioned : News : Oswego Ledger-Sentinel : Hometown Newspaper for Oswego and Montgomery, Illinois
Montgomery staff salary schedule questioned
Village board members question impact of annual, incremental raises

by John Etheredge


Montgomery Village Board members questioned a proposed salary schedule for the village's non-union employees Monday evening.

Prepared by village staff, the schedule sets salary ranges for village positions.

The salary schedule would be effective for the village's 2014-15 fiscal year, which will begin May 1.

The board is expected to adopt the salary schedule along with the village's proposed new fiscal year budget during their next regular meeting on Monday, April 28.

In a memo to the board, Justin VanVooren, the village's director of finance, said the bottom of the proposed salary ranges has not been increased over the current fiscal year's level.

However, VanVooren noted the top end of each salary range has been increased by two percent in order to allow for potential merit increases on Nov. 1.

Reviewing the salary ranges, board member Denny Lee noted that while wages in many private sector positions have stagnated over the past several years, the village and other municipalities have continued to grant raises of two percent or more to many of their staff members on an annual basis.

"I think we should look at all of our pay classifications, because we are getting people from other towns now which means we are not the lowest," Lee said, adding, "I'm not saying our people don't work very hard, I just want to be able to compare it to the other towns."

Lee said he agrees with the village's current contracts for the village's unionized police officers and public works employees because the board received information comparing the village's salary and benefits with union employees in other municipalities prior to their approval.

"But we have things now (with our non-union employees) where we just give a guy an extra two percent or five percent. Which just keep going," Lee continued. "Sooner or later one town has to stop and say, 'This is it.'"

Board member Steve Jungermann said he agreed with Lee, but also believes the current salary range for village code enforcement officer position is too low.

"Just because you have a heartbeat and come to work every day doesn't mean you should get a one, two or three percent increase," Jungermann said, adding, "I work in the private sector and you know, I'm happy (just) keeping my job."

Referring to the village, Jungermann continued, "We can't keep handing out two percent, three percent, five percent (raises). We can't do that. All of a sudden in five years we've gone up 15, 18 or 20 percent. So we have to find some sort of happy medium there."

Responding to the board members' comments, Jeff Zoephel, village administrator, noted that the proposed two percent increase to the top salary for each position classification applies only to the position.

"People aren't getting two percent increases," Zoephel said, adding, "If you remember last year the board agreed to stop giving cost-of-living adjustments so we aren't giving out two percent (increases) here and three percent there. We are all on merit-based salaries. The (proposed salary) range moved two percent to give people the opportunity to grow, but unless people are performing and getting good evaluations they are not getting an increase."

Board member Doug Marecek asked how many of the village's non-union employees did not receive merit increases over the past year. Zoephel said he would have to check and would get back to the board with an exact number. However, he said those employees who received positive evaluations received raises.

"There were probably not many (employees) who did not receive an increase," he said.

Lee said he thought this was a problem.

"In the past years it was three to five percent every year and like you (Zoephel) say, the classification keeps getting bumped up three to five percent and in four years you have a 20 percent (increase)," Lee said.

Marecek then questioned how the village can cap wages for its various positions.

"A receptionist (position) caps out somewhere," he said. "They can't be here for 20 years and end up making $50 an hour. That position just doesn't warrant that. So the question is how does the village address that issue? How does the village cap or stop it?"

Marecek said "from what he has seen" village employees who reach the maximum pay in their salary range receive bonuses in lieu of wage increases.

Referring to the bonuses, he said, "That's not a cap. It's smoke and mirrors. You are either at the cap or you're not at the cap, but you're still getting a check."

Zoephel confirmed that village employees who are at the top of their salary range in their job classification can receive bonuses.

Board member Stan Bond suggested the board consider hiring a consulting firm to review the village's employee compensation program in a "holistic way."

VanVooren told the board that the village's human resources director, Meghan Ostreko, will conduct an in-house wage and compensation study during the new fiscal year. VanVooren added that both he and Ostreko have completed similar studies while working for other municipalities.

"I think it's been a few years since we've done that so I think that is very timely," Bond said.

Village President Matt Brolley said he supports village staff completing an in-house wage study this year.

Brolley, however, expressed concern about the village capping wages for employees.

"We certainly have people who are at the top of their (salary) range. If we were to decide tonight that (the range) doesn't go up at all we will have some of our most dedicated, longest-serving employees at the village who had received an 'excellent' on their review get no increase to their base pay," Brolley said, adding, "That's my only concern. We have great employees here at the village and I would like to keep our long serving employees here. With all that institutional knowledge, I don't want to send them to the next town to make a point."

Here is a list of the proposed salary ranges by positions: building clerk, $34,637 to $49,467; police records clerk, customer service specialist, water billing clerk and accounts payable clerk, $37,062 to $51,446; deputy clerk, $40,087 to $55,643; administrative assistant, fiscal assistant, $41,690 to $57,870; executive assistant, code enforcement officer, $46,667 to $64,778; building inspector, $50,475 to $70,064; streets supervisor, $63,261 to $87,811; utilities supervisor, $65,791 to $91,324; police sergeant, $68,423 to $94,976; management analyst, human resources manager, accounting manager, $52,494 to $72,866; planner, $54,594 to $75,780; building inspections supervisor, senior planner, $63,261 to $87,811; lieutenant, $73,720 to $105,820; deputy police chief, $79,016 to $116,865; and director of community development, director of finance, director of public works and chief of police, $87,947 to $130,073.

According to the approved ordinance setting the salary ranges, all salary increases would be based upon merit "as determined through the completion of an employee performance evaluation as contained in the human resources manual."

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