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FBMA debates salaries

Farragut Board of Mayor and Aldermen approved salary range amendments for Town staff at its April 10 meeting at Town Hall.

The salary ranges are based on midpoints with a 60 or 70 percent pay range width, depending on whether the midpoint is above or below $40,000.

Town Administrator Dan Olson set the ranges with assistance from the personnel committee and recommendations from PTG Organizational Solutions, which performed a salary survey last summer.

However, Olson and the personnel committee disagreed on the process to establish the ranges, which have been on the agenda and then postponed at several Board meetings.

“It took months. We worked on different options, lots of different options, at least once a month since last June,” Olson said.

“I could never give [the personnel committee] something they could live with … they just weren’t happy and then I was a little stubborn. So you add the two together and you come to no agreement at all.

“It was probably as much my fault as anybody’s. I was just trying to do my job and I could never quite figure out what they were finding wrong with my


Olson added, “There are some people that just think our staff is overpaid and they had concerns about that. I never agreed with them about that.

“Trying to educate committee members on what [staff members] do is very difficult. But then, my job is difficult to explain to people,” Olson said.

“We have several people who don’t do simply what is in their job title. Everybody has to do multiple tasks … That’s done on purpose so we don’t have a big staff,” he added.

“Another study will be done this summer to reclassify jobs that are unique for this area, so their salary structures are unique,” Olson said. These positions include codes officer and community development coordinator, among others.

“We are looking at those [jobs] to make sure we are looking at fair comparables when it comes to us doing surveys,” Olson said.

Other jobs, such as Town engineer and associate administrator, were also points of contention among Olson and the personnel committee and were reasons for concern among Board members.

“In the previous salary ranges, our Town engineer was at a range of $65,000 to $91,000 and now his proposed salary is $53,000 to $90,600. In other words, that position lost $400 in regards to range … but at the same time, the other department heads … their maximum increased by $18,400,” said Mayor W. Edward “Eddy” Ford III.

He recommended increasing the engineer’s maximum to $105,000. The Town engineer position is one of those under scrutiny for reclassification.

“I like the idea of approving this whole package and asking the personnel committee and Dan to develop … the job description and new classifications and come to us with an entire package. I think consistency is really important,” Vice-Mayor J. Michael Haynes said.

The Board approved the entire package and requested a continued study of job classifications and appropriate salary ranges.

These ranges have been implemented, but no real changes will be seen until July, when the next performance evaluations will be done and raises will be given if merited.

The money used to widen the ranges is budgeted into each fiscal year budget for the next fiscal year. This year, the budget for salary merit increases is 4


“I budget a certain percentage to be put in a pot for merit increases for next fiscal year. And then that pot is divvied up based relative to performance evaluations,” Olson said.

“Overall, all the salary increases are going to equal what was in the pot,” he added. “I’m a stickler when it comes to the accuracy of our budget … I try to be fair, not just to the employees, but to the Town also.

“One of my goals is to retain people as much as we can, but also to be competitive when we need to hire new people.

“We have typically done amendments every year. The last time we did it was probably two years ago now. We weren’t progressive enough in our changes two years ago,” he added.

“We wanted to make sure we had the ability to keep increasing employees’ wages when they earn them,” Olson said, adding that in summer of 2007, several employees capped out, or reached the maximum that he or she could earn.

“I was trying to correct that. I wanted to make sure that didn’t happen again,” he said.

“I’m not a big fan of turnover, no matter what position it is. When I first got here twelve-and-a-half years ago, our average employee had worked for the Town about a year. Now it’s closer to ten years.”

“If you can keep people in one place, when you need something done, it can be done effectively and efficiently,” he added.


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