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Town to consider salary adjustments for all employees

Jonesborough officials said they will begin deliberations on whether to make changes to the town’s salary structure and pay levels at the Board of Mayor and Aldermen meeting on Monday, June 14.
“Nothing has happened yet, but we’re going to be deliberating more starting at our next meeting,” said Mayor Kelly Wolfe. “We need to make some decisions about how we’re going to structure employees’ salary and insurance for the coming year.”
The town began re-examining its pay structure after officials learned at a retreat earlier this year it did not pay some of its employees nearly as much compared to other towns its size. Employees at the very top and very bottom of the pay scale are those whose salaries are most disproportionate, according to a consultant’s figures.
Operations Manager Craig Ford put hundreds of hours of work into developing a new pay plan to compensate employees more fairly for the jobs they do. The plan, which included analyzing and rewriting almost every job description in the town, is a “hybrid” between what public sector and private sector organizations would use.
At the retreat, the BMA was told it could choose in the future to adopt the plan all at once and pay a large up-front cost, or to gradually ease the plan into place by giving 3 percent raises to employees based on what their salaries should be, as compared with other towns. The salary analysis, however, does not take into account Jonesborough’s contributory retirement system or the fact that employees pay 10 percent of health insurance costs.
At the most recent budget deliberations on Wednesday, June 2, Town Administrator Bob Browning submitted a request for a 3 percent salary increase for all employees – a standard cost of living increase.
Wolfe asked why the town would not make a beginning move to implement the new salary structure.
Browning said it was difficult for the town to change its fiscal structure this year.
“But you do those things to implement them, not to let them gather dust,” Wolfe said. “We need to make that part of the process.”
Wolfe said his intention is for the BMA to go ahead and adopt the reorganization and compensation plan that Ford came up with.
“What we have to do, though, is figure out the best way to do that within the confines of our current budget,” he said. “At the minimum, we want to adopt the plan. We’ll have to work in the pay increase.”
The total cost may be somewhere around $120,000, and can be broken up into a three-year plan, according to town officials.
“I don’t know how much of that we’ll be able to do this year,” Wolfe said. “My goal is to table a third of it per year. The real indicator of how much we’ll be able to do is what our health insurance comes in at.”
Health insurance cost bids are due at the end of this month.
He said at this point, the board is not willing to raise taxes and will address funding the pay improvements out of savings from the budget.