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About 90 county workers to get raise

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By Chris Sardelli

At least 86 Lancaster County employees will see a boost in their pay next month.

County Council approved implementing a compensation and pay classification plan Monday. As part of the plan, the employees will see their salaries adjusted in accordance with a recent study.

The employees who will see an increase in their salaries include 17 deputies, 12 paramedics, 11 community officers, 11 detention center officers, five recreation department employees, four truck drivers, three probate court clerks and all three people in the delinquent tax office. The group also includes county mechanics, custodians, clerks and firefighters.

The study was requested by the county and completed by The Archer Co., which does salary and related studies.

Through a comparison of jobs in other counties and governments, the company established baseline salaries for county workers. The list classifies all county jobs, beginning at the lowest pay grade and position, which is a library page with a minimum salary of $16,790, and ending at county administrator, with a minimum salary of $92,875.  

It was discovered that at least 86 county employees have salaries below the minimum pay grade levels established by the study. The new plan adopted by council helps raise those salaries to the new minimum levels.

The county will begin paying the new salaries in February.

County Administrator Steve Willis said council had anticipated such a change and had budgeted $100,000 for raises in its salary budget for the year. The amount should cover all of the salary increases.

Willis said the county had a difficult decision to make when choosing to adopt the plan.

“Council was in a darned if you do, darned if you don’t position on this,” Willis said. “It’s a heck of a time to talk about increasing salaries.”

Increasing the salaries, though,  may be more cost effective for the county, Willis said. The cost of hiring new employees is very prohibitive, while raising these salaries would help retain current employees and cut down on costs.

For example, it would cost $17,500 to hire and train a new deputy for the sheriff’s office. To hire six new deputies would exceed the $100,000 budget allotted for raises. In contrast, the salaries for all 86 of the county workers can be raised using the same funds.   

Through the plan, Willis and other county officials would also like to develop a “career ladder” for some jobs.  One example, he said, is creating four levels for the job title deputy. By creating levels of achievement, workers can obtain a sense of accomplishment in their job.

“For lower ranks, this gives some progression,” he said. “It’s good for recruitment and retention.”

Willis said the process may not come at a great time, especially with the downturn in the economy, but is necessary to keep workers in the county.

“It’s not a perfect fix,” Willis said. “This won’t fix the problems overnight. It will take years, but we needed the plan in place to get started.”

Contact reporter Chris Sardelli  at csardelli@thelancasternews.com or at (803) 416-8416