City Manager Mike Wildgen is crunching the numbers for shuffling pay scales at city hall.
A job with the city of Lawrence generally pays a competitive wage, but bringing the city's payroll system into today's market could cost anywhere from $16,000 to $300,000 next year.
That's the assessment of a consultant paid to analyze the city's personnel system in terms of job classifications, evaluations and compensation packages.
Justin W. Johnson, a consultant for Ralph Andersen & Associates, of Dallas, revealed his assessment Tuesday night to Lawrence city commissioners.
His bottom line: City jobs pay about average wages when compared to a survey of similar jobs in 14 area cities, six nearby public organizations and eight local businesses.
"That's a good thing," Johnson said.
Seven job classifications, however, fell below the average wage. Among them were supervisors of recreation centers, system analysts and plant mechanics.
Johnson said it would cost the city $16,000 a year for the city to bring those employees up to speed with competitive wages elsewhere.
Putting the entire plan into action, however, would cost the city about $300,000 more next year, City Manager Mike Wildgen said, because the plan would increase the cap for many jobs in which employees already have reached the tops of their merit-pay ladders.
Karen DeGasperi, the city's personnel specialist, said 49 percent of the city's 535 full-time employees already had "maxed out" on merit-pay increases.
A maxed-out custodian, for example, currently would earn $19,608 a year. Under the new plan, the custodian could earn up to $21,564 through merit pay -- a potential 10 percent increase.
Wildgen hasn't decided which options to include in his proposed city budget for 1996, but he did assure one thing: Anyone already at the top of the merit-pay scale wouldn't be forced to take a pay cut, if the plan recommended lowering the cap for that particular job.
"I'm looking at recommending some changes," Wildgen said after Tuesday's meeting. "One option is very expensive. One isn't."