North Augusta City Council voted to implement the recommendations of a salary study and increase its contribution to two employee retirement plans, as required by a new state law that took effect Saturday.
It will cost the city about $515,000 for the next six months, and about $825,000 for a full year. Including money from vacant positions, the current budget has about $900,000 to address the issues, Cammie Hays, finance director, told council members in a study session.
The recommendations serve two purposes, said Todd Glover, city administrator. It shows the city that its employees are classified correctly by their duties and ensures that it’s competitive with other jurisdictions of similar size – so it doesn’t lose good employees and can hire qualified workers for its vacancies.
The plan was done in 2016 by the Archer Company. City employees filled out detailed questionnaires about their duties and pay and the firm compared North Augusta to its competition.
For example, Glover noted that the city sometimes loses Public Safety officers to the security contractor at Savannah River Site, but rarely to other police departments or sheriff’s offices.
Mayor Bob Pettit noted that because the city set aside money for across-the-board, 3 percent raises in the current budget, its employees will not see a decrease in their take-home pay even though they must also pay 2 percent more to the retirement funds.
The legislature raised the contribution levels of employees and employers to help fix the underfunded state plans. One covers police employees, the other covers everyone else.
Employers will pay 2 percentage points more starting this year, for a total of 13.56 percent for non-police employees and 16.24 percent for police officers. That contribution will rise one percentage point per year after fiscal 2018 through fiscal 2023. Employee contributions will rise to no more than a total of 9 percent for non-police employees, 9.75 for police.
The study classified employees by grade, starting at 4 for a sanitation worker and going up to 52 for the city administrator.
Each grade has a minimum and maximum salary range, with increments between.
The sanitation worker’s range would be $25,590 to $35,826. The city adminstrator’s range would be $111,593 to $156,230.
The city gives workers merit raises, too, which are tied to favorable evaluations, so an individual’s actual pay could fall anywhere between the recommended minimum and maximum.
The vote was 4-0, with Bob Brooks, Fletcher Dickert and David McGhee absent.