Walworth County Board OKs pay changes
ELKHORN Walworth County is looking at new models to determine employee pay.
The county aims to create new pay ranges for hourly employees to better reflect the pay their counterparts in the private sector receive.
The Walworth County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday approved unanimously on a voice vote the first round of schedules affecting positions from law enforcement and health care workers to maintenance and clerical workers.
The pay schedules were unanimously approved by the county board's Human Resources Committee Tuesday prior to the county board meeting.
"In the past with union contracts there was comfort in approving, more or less, across-the-board pay increases," said Walworth County Administrator Dave Bretl. "When we started looking at the pay levels in the new environment without union contracts, we found that about one-third of our positions were paying less than the private sector, one-third were about the same and one-third were paying more than their private sector counterparts."
Bretl said Tuesday's board action is just the first round.
"We still must determine how to grandfather employees into these pay schedules," he said. "For example, do we raise an employee's pay immediately to reflect private sector levels and how do we treat a county employee who is receiving a pay check in excess of the private pay level?"
Options could include an immediate raise for some employees and pay freezes for others, Bretl said.
"Merit pay could also enter into the discussion," he said. "These are some of the discussions we'll have as we continue to move to a more equitable pay system that's fair to the employees and the taxpayers."
The pay schedules follow a study of county pay levels by Suzi Hagstrom, the county's labor-employee relations director.
"Prior to Act 10, which changed municipal labor relations, the comparables we used were other similar counties," Bretl said. "Those comparables were readily available."
Using private sector comparables might be a better comparison, but they are not easily obtainable, he said.
"A private sector employer is often reluctant to disclose pay specifics publicly," Bretl said. "We use a service, but some of that information does not have the specifics we need. This is not an exact science."