A tiered pay system for the Wellington police department could end up covering all village employees.
Village council is expected to vote Jan. 29 on police pay in hopes of slowing the turnover rate among officers who start here and leave for better-paying positions elsewhere.
Prior to that meeting, village manager Steve Dupee plans to ask a human resources consulting firm whether tiered pay could be expanded.
Under the new pay schedule, part-time police dispatchers would start at $13.64 with a ceiling of $16.20 after 54 months. A full-time dispatcher would start at $16.20 with the chance to move to $18.28. Part-time officers would move between $15.45 and $21.15 and full-time would make $21.15 to $24.57.
Moving to tiered police pay would raise costs roughly $25,000 annually.
Dupee said it’s still too early to say how much it would cost to put all village employees under the system.
Wellington has struggled to keep a stable police roster the last few years. Chief Tim Barfield said one reason is that merit-based raises create large pay differences for equal work; another reason is a lack of available full-time hours.
“There’s people who we bring on that will never catch up to others under our current system,” he said. “That’s regardless of how many years they’re here. That makes it very hard to retain those kinds of people, good people.”
Talks expanded to cost-of-living raises already scheduled for all village employees in April. Some felt that employees could view a tiered system only for police as unfair, especially in years where a cost-of-living increase isn’t recommended by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Consumer Price Index.
The CPI was calculated at two percent in 2017 after consecutive years at zero percent. Village council budgets three percent for the raises every year and votes on whether to add to the CPI’s recommendation.
In 2015, council settled on two percent followed by one percent in 2016.
“I believe council would certainly have the authority to freeze the tiered pay increases in a year that cost-of-living increases weren’t recommended,” Dupee said. “From my perspective, this is a good example of why it’s a good idea to do tiered pay for everyone all at one time.”
“I don’t want my people left out,” said public works superintendent Bob Brasee. “I have people who have been here for years and I have lost plenty from my department too. No one seems to ever remember that. It takes quality people to do what we do.”
Another question raised was how to address an employee in a tiered system who may be under-performing. Some officials said recommendations from superiors could still be a criteria for moving up a tier, but councilman William Bogan thinks that would defeat the idea of having a tiered system in the first place.
“Your evaluations should have two purposes: letting an employee know where they stand and serving as a paper trail if a time comes that you have to make a difficult decision of telling someone they’re not cutting it,” he said. “If we incorporate that into the pay system, we’re moving right back into where we were before. It’s what people have wanted to get away from.”
“We have a two-tiered system in education, with longevity and education level as the basis,” Bogan said. “A truly tiered pay system shouldn’t be affected by your evaluation. Your evaluation should dictate whether you’re promoted or if you get to keep your job.”
Jonathan Delozier can be reached at 440-647-3171 or @DelozierNews on Twitter.