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Stockbridge eyeing new employee pay scale

By Valerie Baldowski

vbaldowski@henryherald.com

The City of Stockbridge is asking for help from the Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC) to determine how much its city employees should be paid.

During Monday's meeting, the city council unanimously approved a proposal to conduct a Salary and Classification Study. The ARC will conduct the study, said Kellie Brownlow, division chief for local government services for the ARC.

The cost to the city will be a minimum of $3,500, although more in-depth studies could be done for an additional $1,000, according to Stockbridge Mayor Lee Stuart. He said payment will come from the general fund budget.

The study is scheduled to start the week of May 17, and conclude Aug. 20, continued Stuart.

"The reason why we're asking [for the study] is because we have very little, if any, job descriptions," Stuart told those in attendance. During Brownlow's presentation, the mayor asked her if the study would indicate an appropriate salary range for the city clerk and other municipal employees.

"We've outgrown ourselves from when we had the job descriptions before, as to where we are now," said Stuart. The previous job descriptions for city employees are outdated, Stuart said after the meeting.

For example, the last time an assessment of job responsibilities and associated pay was done for the city clerk was in 1991, he said. "We need to know what other city clerks do."

The study is needed to correctly identify the job responsibilities for all municipal employees, Stuart added. "There are no job descriptions," he said. "On the pay scales, when we talk to other cities, the employees come in and tell you, 'These people over here are making three times what I'm making.' We've asked them [the ARC] to come in and do a study, to level the playing field and try and get us in the ballpark."

Through employee interviews, the study will determine the job responsibilities, knowledge and abilities of each worker, and the appropriate salary for each person, based on comparable jobs held by their counterparts in other local governments, said Brownlow.

She told the council that drafting specific job descriptions for its workers, in the form of a "future workforce analysis," would assist the city. "We would help you plan for your future workforce," she said.

The most appropriate salary range will be comparable to other municipalities, she added.

"What the objective is, is to ensure the city's pay system is set up so that they can both retain quality and qualified employees, and increase them," Brownlow said, after her presentation. "We don't look at actual salaries, we look at salary ranges in competitive local governments.

"Typically, local governments want to fall right in the middle," said Brownlow. "Basically, no local government, even in the best of times, can afford to be at the top end of the scale, and you don't want to be at the bottom end of the scale, [because] that means when you are looking for police officers, you're going to be the last one to get qualified police officers."