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Town staff underpaid, study reveals

Farragut’s employees, on average, are underpaid.

That’s the news Farragut’s Board of Mayor and Aldermen heard during a workshop Thursday, March 24.

Springsted Inc. presented a classification and compensation study to the Board that surveyed Town employees, along with local and similar municipalities to Farragut, to determine if Farragut’s employees are being paid close to the market average for their jobs.

The answer, it turns out, is no.

That news comes even though the Town is far above its peers in health, dental and vision insurance, which it pays 100 percent of for its employees and for their families. The Town also pays for life insurance coverage and long-term disability coverage.

“Discussions with Town personnel and a review of current compensation data indicate that many of the positions in the Town of Farragut are under-compensated in relation to other comparable organizations,” the report states.

On average, minimum salaries are 10.81 percent below the market averages; midpoint salaries are 8.06 percent below the market and maximums in salary ranges are 6.49 percent below the market.

Those may be the averages, but according to the report, the Town’s human resources manager’s minimum salary is nearly 30 percent lower than the market average; the athletic and parks coordinator’s minimum salary is 27.85 percent lower and the stormwater coordinator’s minimum salary is 26.28 percent lower.

The engineering department’s administrative assistant was the only position to have higher numbers throughout the whole salary range than the market average.

Other positions — such as codes officer, foreman and administrative assistant in the parks and leisure services department — had lower minimum salary range numbers, but midpoint and maximum numbers that were higher than the market averages.

The survey included 31 Town staff positions, but left out six positions in the final evaluation because information about those jobs was either incomplete or inconsistent. In other words, Farragut either has a job that is unique to the Town, or similar jobs in other cities reported a range of salary numbers and job descriptions that were all over the board.

“These programs are not static ... the ranges and descriptions and competition levels change,” John Anzivino of Springsted Inc. told the Board.

Those six positions include the Town’s traffic enforcement officer, planner, special events and programs coordinator, park assistants and public works director.

The Town administrator also wasn’t included in the study because he is an “at will” employee, hired by the Board, which also determines his salary.

Anzivino recommended a new compensation plan that established 32 pay grades with a 6.5 percent spread between grades and a total spread of 55 percent from maximum to minimum.

He recommended those in the Town’s workforce who are being compensated below the minimum of the proposed wage scale be bumped up to the new minimums. That would cost $18,799.30.

Employees who do fall within the proposed range would be given a two percent salary increase, which would increase the cost to the Town to $56,310.20.

To ensure the Town doesn’t fall behind the market again, Anzivino recommended the Town adjust salary schedules each year based on cost-of-living and recruitment and retention statistics.

The new compensation plan also would come with a new evaluation system.

“There is a very strong performance-based evaluation system,” Anzivino said, so employees would progress through the pay grades only as they perform their jobs well, rather than getting salary bumps due to longevity or other reasons.

“Employees should only receive pay increases if their performance is satisfactory or better,” the report states.

Finally, the report also discussed the Town’s fringe benefits. The Town does not offer longevity pay, retiree health insurance, short-term disability insurance and does not participate in Social Security. Farragut also offers fewer holidays off per year than other similar communities.

Farragut is basically on par with sick and vacation days.

The compensation study was discussed during a workshop; no vote was taken.


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