Pelham salary study to cost up to $85,000

Published 11:24 pm Monday, November 16, 2009

In a 3-2 vote, the Pelham City Council approved a resolution Monday night for a comprehensive salary study for city employees that could cost up to $85,000.

The propsal was granted to Mercer, Inc., and the study is intended to provide a more defined pay structure for the approximate 300 city employees, which make up nearly 65 percent of the annual budget.

The study is expected to take five to six months.

The resolution previously failed to pass on Oct. 5, with council members Teresa Nichols and Bill Meadows voting for the study, members Steve Powell and Karyl Rice voting against the study and council president Mike Dickens abstaining from the vote.

Dickens abstained from the vote on Oct. 5 because he said he had not studied it enough.

However, he did say he was adamantly for the study, and voted for the resolution Monday.

Powell argued the study could be conducted internally through the human resources department without the city paying $85,000.

“I do have a belief that our human resources department can or can’t perform this task,” Powell said.

If the study could not be conducted internally, Powell said then the city should look at contracting it out, but not before doing so through a bid process just like every other capital venture.

“I would at least ask the council to get other bids,” Powell said.

Rice agreed.

“We have not placed this up for a bid situation,” Rice said.

And with the amount being a number like $85,000, Rice said the city would be hypocritical spending such an amount.

“We have been told over, over, over that we need to save money because revenues are down,” Rice said.

Since Mercer has conducted the same study for municipalities such as Hoover, Shelby County, Baldwin County and Knoxville, Meadows said the study would end up saving the city money by cutting the 65 percent in the budget.

Meadows said this would be done not by cutting current salaries, but by identifying positions that are both paid too low and paid too high and providing solutions on how to balance them out, while also staying competitive in the market.

“It’s based on the market, hard numbers,” Meadows said. “It’s not sticking my finger in the air and seeing what salaries should be.

“Let’s start at this facet,” he added.