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O’Fallon approves 2017 budget, accepts results of pay study

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During an O’Fallon City Council meeting workshop on Dec. 8, the mayor and councilmembers heard the final recommendations of a city-wide salary study that was added to the proposed 2017 city budget. That action preceded the council’s final budget vote of 7-2 with Councilmembers Richard “Rick” Battelle [Ward 3] and John Haman Jr. [Ward 3] voting no.

Before passing the budget legislation, the council approved three amendments to the budget bill. First, it unanimously agreed to add a night differential to and accept the pay study. Next, it unanimously agreed to add a police dog, at a cost of $22,745, to replace one the city had retired. And finally, it agreed [6-3] to add $90,000 for council travel and training. Battelle, Haman and Tom “Duke” Herweck [Ward 2] dissented.

The total first year cost of the pay study is $301,722 and includes job benefits, such as FICA and Medicare, but not health care.

The objectives of the study were two-fold:

• to compare the salaries of all city positions, except uniformed police, with those in St. Charles County, St. Charles City, St. Peters, Wentzville and Lake Saint Louis.

• to make salaries rank near the 66th percentile, the same as the police. The city approved a budget amendment in April that enacted a new police pay plan, effective June 1, 2016.

According to City Administrator Bonnie Therrien and Administrative Services Director John Griesenauer, the city began working on the salary study in April. In doing so, they received three or more comparable job descriptions from the other five agencies for more than 88 percent of O’Fallon’s positions, compared more than 156 position titles, reviewed more than 1,000 job descriptions, and included department directors and managers to review the data for accuracy.

“So we could compare apples to apples as much as possible,” Griesenauer said.

The council wanted the desired market position to follow the recent police salary study, so salaries were calculated based on that guideline with new ranges created. Doing so rendered the city’s former pay grades obsolete. Again, department heads reviewed the new ranges for accuracy and internal equity.

In the final analysis, no top end ranges were cut and there was no loss of earning for current employees. Mirroring the police study, salary steps decreased from 16 pay grades to 12 steps and increased from 2.5 to 3.18 percent per step.

In the new plan, an accounts payable clerk starts at $37,398 and ends at $52,769 while the city’s web and design administrator starts at $50,273 and tops out at $70,928.

Therrien and an administrative panel met with employees after the new plan was communicated. Administrators explained the results and outlined the process for questions or concerns related to the new plan. Employees were urged not to remain silent if they had concerns or if they believed the city missed a crucial piece of information.

She said 22 employees questioned the results relative to their salary ranges. A handful of those 22 had their pay changed based on the new information the employees presented.

“Many times, they came as a group with questions, such as a group of street department workers,” Therrien said. “They came and gave us additional information if we didn’t have the right information.”

Employees who now earn less than the new minimum range will be placed at the new bottom step on Jan. 1. Staff members will receive their raises on the current plan; then, transition to the new plan at their annual reviews if they receive a satisfactory evaluation and are not already at the top of their salary range.

“Happy employees are productive employees,” said Councilmember Bob Howell [Ward 4] of the results. “With an $80 million budget, we got $300,000 here. It’s going to bring the employees back to where they need to be. It’s no secret we have lost some top-notch employees here just in the past several months.”

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