Some Columbia County staffers earn slightly less than their counterparts in benchmark counties throughout the Southeast, according to the 2016 salary study presented Tuesday to the Management and Internal Services Committee.
As a result of the study, County Administrator Scott Johnson said auditors have recommended pay grade increases for 14 of the 20 positions analyzed, stating there were no recommendations for the remaining six. Those changes, pending commission approval, could go into effect in February and cost the county an additional $15,310, which has already been accounted for in the 2016-2017 fiscal year budget proposal.
The salary study is conducted annually by auditors who evaluate the compensation structure of select positions since analyzing the county’s 1,200 employees at once wouldn’t be “cost beneficial,” according to the study. The county started doing compensation comparison studies in 1998.
This year, auditors submitted 13 survey requests to county and city governments in Georgia, South Carolina and Virginia. Ten were returned and not all of the respondents had corresponding positions within their government.
Among this year’s positions were 311 customer service representative, field supervisor, risk manager and an administrative assistant position.
Some of the salaries fared favorably with their counterparts in the benchmark counties. An administrative coordinator starts at $30,181 in Columbia County, just $743 less than the average among five respondents.
However, a field supervisor could earn a minimum salary of nearly $10,000 less in Columbia County. The average maximum salary eclipsed $60,000 while Columbia County currently tops out at $41,059.
“I will say for the first time this year … it seemed that Columbia County was, I won’t say behind, but lagging somewhat in some of these positions,” Johnson said. “Typically we fell kind of right in the middle of the salary positions for our benchmark counties.
“For some reason, our benchmark counties have outpaced us a little bit in some of the positions that were studied this year.”
Johnson also noted that there were minor differences detected in the stated hourly rates and the annual salary amounts, which had since been corrected. He recommended those changes effective July 1.
The study was placed on the commission’s consent agenda.
Internal Services Director Leanne Reece informed the committee of a few changes to the proposed budget for the 2016-2017 fiscal year, including swapping out county-issued phones to fleet services employees in favor of cellphone allowances.
Commissioners are scheduled to approve the budget at the June 7 meeting.
Reece also reported that the monthly special purpose local option sales tax for March exceeded $1.7 million in one of the largest collection periods to date.
“What I find interesting is that it’s 15.3 percent higher than last month and 4.2 percent higher than last March,” Reece said.