County adopts compensation plan

Published 11:16 am Friday, April 29, 2016

Following an independent review of the county’s Classification and Compensation Plan, the Southampton County Board of Supervisors on Monday adopted a revised salary schedule to better equip the locality to recruit for vacant positions, retain existing employees and provide for flexibility in rewarding for job performance. The board also approved a measure that would bring employee pay grades that are below the market up to their respective minimum pay grade.

“You have people in the department that are working at different pay scales, and that hasn’t been addressed over a period of years,” Capron District Supervisor Bruce Phillips said.

The study — conducted by Springsted, one of the largest and most established advisory firms in the country — provided an overview of Southampton’s compensation system and options for addressing any issues.

Of note, the study showed that 56 of the county’s 142 employees are working for less than the market-based minimum recommended salary.

“The recommendations offered, we believe, will increase the market competitiveness of the county’s compensation program within the regional marketplace and provide increased internal equity among county positions,” Springstead Vice President Joel Davis said. “Implementation of these recommendations will assist the county in attracting new employees when necessary and in retaining current employees needed to meet the county’s service demands.”

Demographics, comparable levels of services provided by the entity surveyed and geographic proximity to Southampton County were considered when conducting the study. The cities of Chesapeake, Suffolk and Virginia Beach and counties of Greensville, Sussex and York were among the 11 localities represented; the City of Franklin and Isle of Wight County did not provide compensation information at Springsted’s request.

“The overall total cost to bring each employee up to their minimum recommended salary and provide a 0.5 percent adjustment for each year of service — to address what is referred to as salary compression — is slightly more than $450,000,” county administrator Mike Johnson said.

The plan to bring all employees up to their minimum salary levels will be phased in over a three-year period, with approximate first-year costs of $223,700. While the majority of the projected $1.95 million increase in the 2017 Fiscal Year budget is earmarked specifically for the Southampton County Public School District, the balance ($572,071) would cover the updated Classification and Compensation Plan; the General and Enterprise Funds; escalating costs of EMS services; and the Fixed Asset Valuation Report, the next step in determining whether creation of a joint Water and Sewer Service Authority with the City of Franklin is in the best interest of both localities.

“The initial draft budget for Fiscal Year 2017 includes sufficient funding to begin phasing in Springsted’s recommendations over a three-year period,” Johnson said.

The budget is expected to increase thanks to a proposed raise in the real estate tax rate (from $0.77 to $0.82); vehicle license tax ($23 to $28); and water and sewage fees ($26 to $27 and $34 to $35 per month, respectively).