Remembering 9/11 :: September 11, 2001

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Opinion Letters Compensation study should be carefully reviewed

I believe Macon County’s commissioners need to closely analyze and thoroughly discuss the results and proposals made in Springsted’s compensation and classification study before any changes are made to the county’s compensation plan.

I suggest that county commissioners obtain a “second opinion” from another consultant on classification and compensation, prior to committing to the significant increases in employee compensation proposed by the Springsted study. Those increases could result in an annual cost estimated at between $613,000 and $1.13 million for taxpayers. Would those additional expenditures be appropriate when the U.S. economy could be headed for another recession this year?

Without question county employees deserve competitive compensation for their services in order to maintain a stable and productive workforce. That compensation includes both salaries and benefits that should be considered together in a compensation package. Instead, Springsted has split salaries from benefits in their salary analysis.

As well as providing county employees with competitive compensation, it is also important to protect the interests of taxpayers, by getting the best value for taxpayers’ money by not over-compensating county employees.

I am not convinced Springsted’s study meets the dual goals of equity for both county employees and taxpayers.

I believe a major flaw of the study was the poor selection of the “market” used for establishing a new pay scale. Three of the 10 North Carolina counties/cities used in the “market” are over 200 miles away. Meanwhile local towns, nearby counties, and local private sector companies were ignored. In Springsted studies for Carroll County Virginia in 2010, and Amherst County Virginia in 2009, local towns, private industry, and even counties in adjoining states, were included in the salary “markets.”

I am not a compensation consultant, just a concerned county taxpayer. However, much of the Springsted study is simply manipulation of data. I have made my own analysis of 42 Macon County jobs using salary data from the salary survey performed annually by the University of North Carolina’s School of Government titled “County Salaries in North Carolina - 2012.” That survey includes data from 93 of 100 N.C. counties with salaries effective the fall of 2011 — the same timeframe as the Springsted data. That survey is available free and may be downloaded from the school’s web site. My “amateur” analysis shows some salary adjustments may be appropriate for county employees, but does not indicate the need for the massive overhaul Springsted recommends. Thus, my suggestion for a “second opinion” from professionals.

The announcement by Springsted that 55 percent of employees are paid below the minimum salary rate of the proposed pay grade schedule has certainly put Macon County commissioners in a difficult position. Most county employees are now wondering if they are among the 55 percent that are being underpaid based solely on Springsted’s study. I hope county commissioners take the time necessary to assure themselves the proposed increase in the county's payroll is proper.

Vic Drummond — Franklin, N.C.





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