Pelham council reaches consensus on city salary study

Most Pelham city employees likely will remain on the salaries they are now receiving throughout the next budget year, the City Council announced during an Aug. 6 work session.

The council held the special-called work session to discuss a city salary study recently completed by the Mercer company. In the study, Mercer recommended an 18-grade pay scale with 12 steps per grade for all Pelham employees.

Mercer also detailed two pay scale scenarios in the study. One scenario would be at the 50th percentile, 18 percent lower than Pelham’s current pay scale, and the second would be at the 75th percentile.

The 50th percentile option would be about equal to the salaries offered by cities comparable to Pelham, and the 75th percentile would be about 18 percent higher than the salaries offered by comparable cities, said Councilwoman Theresa Nichols.

During the work session, council members agreed to implement the 50th percentile pay scale for city employees who currently fall below the lowest pay step identified in the Mercer study.

Seven city employees, which is about 3 percent of the city’s workforce, currently make less than the lowest pay rate recommended in the Mercer study.

“We do have a real issue with a number of folks who are not being paid with the rest of the crowd right now. That’s a travesty,” said Council President Mike Dickens. “I urge the council to address that problem for sure. We need to get moving on this.”

The council also recommended every city employee currently above the lowest pay grade identified in the Mercer study stay at their current salaries throughout the 2010-2011 budget year, which runs from Oct. 1, 2010-Sept. 30, 2011.

Council members also agreed no city employee’s salary should be cut during the upcoming budget year, and all employees scheduled to receive step raises during the 2010-2011 budget year should still receive them.

If the council votes during its Aug. 16 meeting to accept the recommendations made during the work session, it will also install the 18-grade pay scale recommended in the Mercer study.

However, the city would only install the pay scale for informational purposes, and would only use the scale to raise the salaries of the seven people who are paid below the lowest pay grade in the Mercer study.

“People who are below step one will be raised up to that level,” said Councilwoman Karyl Rice. “Everyone else will stay at the salary they are at right now.”

Everything discussed during the work session must be voted on by the council during a regular council meeting before it is finalized.

After the city enacts its 2010-2011 budget Oct. 1, the council will continue to study the recommendations made in the Mercer study, and could use the study to later modify the city’s pay scale, job descriptions and more, council members said.