Discussion – Salary Survey and proposal for salary increases
Mr. Messina presented his findings on the salary surveys sent out by the BTSA in order to investigate the current salaries of employees at similar sewerage authorities. Mr. Messina noted that he sent salary surveys to 15 Sewerage Authorities of comparable size and received five responses. Ms. Boquist asked Mr. Messina about his method for reaching out to the various Sewerage Authorities. Mr. Messina confirmed that he contacted them via written request, but also noted that he has had numerous conversations with Administrators in comparable towns with regards to employee salaries.
Mr. Messina noted the difficulty in categorizing positions, as job titles vary among comparable positions in each town. Specifically, Mr. Moschello noted a potential problem with trying to compare salaries as presented attached to job titles, and not job descriptions. For example, a Supervisor in Bernards Township may hold slightly different responsibilities than those of a Supervisor in Florence Township. He further suggested that the entire compensation package be reviewed, since this has been an ongoing issue.
Mr. Messina and Mr. Carpenter pointed out that the greatest disparity in salary is at the lowest level, Operator 1. As a result, he proposed an across-the-board raise to an annual salary of $35,000, the average as presented in the salary surveys collected, for those holding the Operator 1 position. Further, he noted that the salary for those holding the Operator 2 position is $4,000 to $5,000 less than the average presented in the surveys. Mr. Messina suggested that increases at this level be awarded one time, with subsequent annual raises to be awarded at the standard average of 3-4%. Mr. Messina confirmed that he has reviewed all of the figures with Mr. Bowlby and Ms. Eula and also noted that the total cost of the proposed increases is approximately $49,000. This increase was added to the 2008 budget.
Mr. Krause asked Mr. Messina to clarify which level experiences the most turnover. Mr. Messina clarified that employees at the lowest level, Operator 1, account for the most turnover. In response to Mr. Messina’s clarification, Mr. Moschello noted that it seems as though the only salaries that the BTSA should consider adjusting at this point are those in the Operator 1 position. Mr. Krause agreed. Mr. Moschello further suggested that any increases be made gradually, and not all at once as proposed. Mr. Carpenter agreed.
Ms. Boquist asked for clarification as to what employees noted in their exit interviews as reasons for seeking employment elsewhere. Ms. Boquist noted that to her recollection, the issue was not necessarily money in these instances, but instead unfilled promises of promotions, etc. Additionally, she recalled that two employees who left the BTSA later came back to us. Mr. Messina clarified that, at the lower levels of employment, the issue for leaving was mainly related to dissatisfaction with salary. Mr. Bowlby agreed and noted that in his experience, staff was not interested in the for “Pay for Performance” program. Instead, they wanted to know exactly what they would make and when to expect it.
Ms. Boquist expressed her belief that some of the issues with salaries will likely be addressed once the SCADA system is established. Mr. Messina stated that SCADA will only address data acquisition, but will not improve the paychecks of employees. Mr. Carpenter agreed. Mr. Messina explained that the proposed salary increases will not affect user fees. Ms. Boquist