In 2017, the Yavapai County Board of Supervisors approved a $70,000 compensation study for employees that looked at market analysis, recruitment, retention, and equalization across departments for its employees’ wage and salaries.
On Dec. 5, 2018, the supervisors approved changes to job titles, descriptions of duties and wages for 56 positions, resulting in an annual cost of more than a half million dollars. The changes passed by a 4-1 vote with Supervisor Craig Brown opposing.
The reclassifications and wage increases go into effect Jan. 13.
The compensation study had placed a hold on reclassifications for nearly two years, Wendy Ross, Human Resources Department director, told the supervisors at the Dec. 5 board meeting.
“The list is long. It was not a rubber stamp; there was a lot of back-and-forth discussion,” Ross said.
For Jan. 13 through June 30, 2019, the six months left in Fiscal Year 2018-19, the impact to the budget is $255,618 plus another $110,600 for employee-related expenses, which include worker’s compensation, FICA, retirement, unemployment compensation, liability insurance and health insurance, for a total $366,218.
The budget impact for a full year comes to $732,436, nearly three-quarters of a million dollars, Supervisor Craig Brown pointed out.
These funds are an expense that will continue for all future budgets; any future Cost of Living Adjustments (COLA) or merit raises will be based on the increased wage amounts.
This past July, eligible employees received a 3 percent merit raise for the 2018-19 fiscal year. These are allotted to employees based on their performance over the past year; department heads make the decision which employees gets how much.
A reclassification adjusts pay based on duties being performed, and ensures wages are equitable and in line with market pay for that position, Ross explained.
“I don’t have a problem with this,” Supervisor Jack Smith said. “It’s a big ticket item. Is this it? Are we good now?”
Brown also supports the reclassifications and costs involved, but said he disagreed with requests for wage increases coming before the board in mid-year. “It needs to be solved at budget time.”
Legal secretaries in seven departments received a 9.8 percent increase in wages, a reclassification of two range levels. Several positions were reclassified into a new position.
An administrative assistant in the Sheriff’s Office, for instance, went from Range 113 to Range 116 with a new title and a $6,244 raise. Also in the Sheriff’s Office, a reclassification from range 119 to range 123 brought an employee a $11,019 raise. Combining two positions into one where duties already overlap resulted in three employees receiving from $7,080 to $8,179 additional annual wages.
An expansion in job duties led to a wage increase of $12,500 for yet another Sheriff’s Office employee. A bump to a newly-created middle-management position with added duties gave an additional employee a $15,928 raise.
In the Recorder’s Office, one employee’s job was reclassified into a new position for a raise of $11,792. In Public Works, after clarifying the duties, an employee moved from a Range 103 to Range 115 position with a $14,374 raise.
A supervisory position in Fleet Management changed to assistant director for an $11,412 increase in wages. A similar increase went to a new assistant director in Community Health Center of Yavapai.
All County Attorney legal secretary positions classified as Range 111 moved to Range 113 with a change in job title to litigation specialist and revised job descriptions with wage increases between $3,000 and $5,000. The compensation study revealed these employees were paid 9.8 percent below market levels.
The county first looked into a compensation study in January 2017, and the supervisors appointed an outside consultant in March 2017. The findings and recommendations came before the board during its budget discussions in May 2018 and were adopted as part of the FY 2018-19 budget effective July, which also included a merit raise of 3 percent per eligible employee.