Pelham passes new employee pay plan
By NEAL WAGNER / City Editor
After several months of working with the Pelham Personnel Board to construct a new city employee pay plan from the ground up, Mayor Gary Waters didn’t hide his feelings when the City Council gave its seal of approval on the new plan.
“Halleluiah,” Waters shouted after the council unanimously approved the plan during an Aug. 5 meeting. “The first round is on me at Tyler Navarre’s after the meeting. I’m so happy, you can put that on the record.”
The new employee pay plan is set to replace Pelham’s current plan on Aug. 17, which will give the city’s department heads time to use the new numbers while preparing their budget requests for the 2014 fiscal year, city leaders said previously.
Personnel Board member Jim Collins said Pelham’s current pay plan, which was based on the Mercer salary study and passed in 2011, conflicts with the city’s civil service law, and has been the basis of past litigation against the city.
“(The new pay plan) is not in conflict with the civil service law. That is the main reason we need to do this,” Waters said, noting the new plan will “restore equity, eliminate classifications that are no longer needed” and will restore Pelham to its “competitive nature” compared to surrounding cities.
Personnel Board member Greg Darnell said the board used data from Pelham’s surrounding cities, such as Alabaster, Helena and Vestavia Hills, while constructing the new pay plan.
After gathering other cities’ employee payment data, the Personnel Board sought to set Pelham’s pay rate higher than 75 percent of the surrounding cities, Darnell said.
“Based on that competitive data, we were able to look at and decide what Pelham should pay,” Darnell said, noting pay amounts at Ballantrae Golf Club, the Pelham Civic Complex and the Pelham Racquet Club were calculated using data from cities with similar facilities.
No Pelham employees spoke for or against the new pay plan during a public hearing before the council’s vote.
Waters said the new pay plan will be “self-funding.” Shortly after taking office, Waters eliminated 32 part- and full-time positions from the city’s departments, netting Pelham a total savings of $970,000.
Because the new pay plan includes currently unfilled positions, it will cost the city about $461,000 to implement it, Waters said. When all positions included on the new pay plan are filled, it will cost the city about $778,000, he said.
“That’s still $200,000 less than what we saved by eliminating those positions,” Waters said.
Current Pelham employees also had input in constructing the new pay plan, Waters said.
“This is the first pay plan in Pelham’s history that has had input from the lowest laborer to the mayor’s office and everything in between,” Waters said.
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