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Archive for Monday, December 16, 2002

City likely to pay $25,000 to study payroll

December 16, 2002

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Officials say they don't think a new study of the city's pay scale will result in pressure for higher wages for city employees.

But even if it does, they said, it may not matter. Right now, the city doesn't have the money.

Still, city commissioners Tuesday are expected to approve a $25,000 contract with FBD Consulting Inc. of Overland Park to study the compensation system for city employees.

"Most of the city's costs are personnel costs," City Manager Mike Wildgen said. "Looking at the compensation plan every five, six years is good. It doesn't mean there will be money in the budget."

The city has about 700 full-time employees and an annual payroll of $33 million.

The current system - which puts employees in different pay classes based on the education and skill level required for their job, then increases the wages the longer the employee serves - has been in place since 1995.

Since then, officials say, there have been changes in state and federal regulations that affect the wage structure, and some of the pay classes may have become outdated.

The city has convened a 20-employee compensation review team that will meet biweekly during the study.

"The committee will allow employees to identify 'hot spots' and to make sure their co-workers are kept informed of the project and have a voice to raise potential issues," Wildgen wrote in a memorandum to commissioners.

One of the study's highlights: a survey of how other cities pay their employees. Wildgen said it shouldn't cause Lawrence workers to agitate for more money.

"This is not going to come up with, say, 'Pay everybody 10 percent more next year,'" he said.

City Commissioner David Dunfield agreed. But he said the study might lead to more "consistency" in dealings with emergency workers and police officers, who negotiate a contract separately from other employees.

"We want to make sure that we're being fair," Dunfield said.

In his memo, Wildgen suggested the study could lead to raises for some employees - but not right now.

"We recognize that, because of budget concerns, there may be some compensation recommendations that may not be implemented for some time," he wrote.

The study is expected to be completed in June. The commission meets at 6:35 p.m. Tuesday in City Hall.

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