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City Council hears results of pay survey

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Results show most employees are happy in the workplace

By Jesef Williams

Are city of Lancaster employees happy with their work environment? What about pay? Are they being compensated based on their true market value?

Last year, the city hired Evergreen Solutions, an independent consultancy, to conduct what’s called a classification and compensation study on all of the municipality’s positions. Members of its team visited Lancaster to ask city employees a host of questions about their job satisfaction and tenure with the city.

Based on the surveys and data from nearly 30 other governmental entities, Evergreen Solutions gave several suggestions of ways to make the city of Lancaster pay structure more equitable.

Dr. Jeff Ling, executive vice president of Evergreen Solutions, shared those findings and recommendations during the Tuesday, Aug. 27, City Council meeting.

Ling said the city’s pay plan is “fundamentally sound,” even though it’s been years since employees have received raises, according to information in Ling’s presentation.

He said the city should make its pay plan “more progressive” and move toward more of a merit-based pay system instead of one with fixed increments of change. He also said the city should establish new pay ranges for many of its positions.

Evergreen Solutions recommended changing several job titles to better align with their respective duties. Examples include the “building official” becoming the “director of building and zoning” and the “human resources assistant” becoming the “human resources generalist.”

Ling reiterated the Evergreen Solutions team walked away from its survey with the impression that the city of Lancaster’s employees are overall happy in the workplace.

“We’ve heard a lot of positive things here,” Ling said. “They’re very proud of their community and they’re very dedicated to their jobs.”

Money is included in the 2013-14 budget to make salary adjustments, if necessary, that would be recommended by the survey.

Council didn’t take any action on the matter Tuesday.

Also at Tuesday’s meeting, City Council:

– Voted unanimously to approve a change order of $1,983 for work on the well infrastructure at the Lancaster Air Rail Park off S.C. 9. That money will pay for the installation of a strainer basket in the wet well.

– Heard a presentation from Donna Parsons and Vicki Hinson, who have led the effort to ban smoking in public-access places in Lancaster County.

Parsons and Hinson are members of the county’s Health and Wellness Commission. They also updated Lancaster County Council on the smoking ban earlier this month. 

The councils for Lancaster County, the town of Kershaw and town of Heath Springs have each already adopted the ordinance.

City Council has passed first reading. A public forum on the matter is set for Sept. 10. City staff haven’t said when final reading will occur.

Parsons and Hinson said some language may need to be tweaked in the draft of the city’s ordinance.

For instance, they said a “retail tobacco store” needs to be more clearly defined.

They said if City Council adopts the ordinance, Lancaster County will be the first county in South Carolina to have a truly comprehensive smoking ban.

“We may get national and state recognition if we are the first,” Hinson said.