County gets update on pay study

LaGRANGE – After months of questions and analysis, a representative from Condrey & Associates presented the results of a countywide pay study to the Troup County Commission on Thursday morning.

The commissioners voted in favor of the study in October, with the stated purpose of determining how the county stacks up compared to other counties on pay and benefits, and which specific departments are most in need of improvement. Condrey & Associates has spent the last few months gathering information on county employees with evaluations, on-site interviews and comparisons to comparable within the region. About half of all county employees were interviewed as part of the pay study, or roughly one employee per position.

“You asked us to look at your current classification, pay system and provide you with some recommendations for improvements,” said Mark Knowles, a principle associate with Condrey & Associates. “This is not something unusual. Most governments will do this on average about every 10 years. The primary goal is to make sure that your job descriptions that are in place are up to date and reflective of what people are actually doing, so that they understand what is expected, but just as important, stewards of the organization understand what they can expect from the employees.

“It also makes sure that your compensation system that is tied to those jobs is – first, that it is internally fair. That people who are doing different types of work are paid in similar ways. … And also, to make sure that externally that it is competitive, so that whenever you go to hire someone, you are able to recruit a candidate who is qualified, and when you are done here you are able to retain them, and also be able to reward them.”

Knowles highlighted the importance of making sure that employees don’t have to decide whether or not to “drive 30 miles up the road” get better pay for a comparable job in another county, even if that meant doing some comparisons with larger counties.

“What you would typically find with a county that is that much smaller than a large one is if you have a deputy sheriff or a police officer, there is typically going to be a wage structure that is very similar or within a four or five percentile range,” said Knowles. “So, for those individual positions, you’ve got to pay those individual positions in order to do that job that is very comparable regardless of the size of that county.”

While part of the plan recommended raises for certain positions, Knowles warned the county to avoid pay compression.

“You find yourself where you create a system called pay compression, and pay compression is not necessarily a good thing in an organization because basically what starts to happen is you are hiring people in, and they potentially are making exactly the same as someone who has potentially been serving you and doing a very good job over a 10-year period,” he said.

To combat that potential problem, the consulting group recommended having different pay levels for positions depending on the length of time that employees have served the county.

The group also reviewed county employee benefits, and the commissioners were happy to hear that those received a favorable review.

“You typically offer more in benefits then other organizations,” said Knowles. “… Overall on your health insurance, Troup is better.”

While many positions will require pay modifications, the group suggested moving towards the recommended pay rates at incremental levels instead of all at once in order to become increasingly competitive each year. The county has not determined how it will fund pay increases at this time.

The pay study cost a total of $52,500.

The Troup County Board of Commissioners plan to meet again on Tuesday at 8:30 a.m. at 100 Ridley Ave.

Reach Alicia B. Hill at alicia.hill@lagrangenews.com or at 706-884-7311, Ext. 2154.