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Study suggests pay hikes for some county employees

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By Chris Sardelli

A pay grade study could help raise the salaries of some Lancaster County workers.

As part of a compensation and pay classification study requested by the county, The Archer Co. found there are 84 county employees who are paid below the minimum pay grade levels.

The employees are scattered across many different classifications in positions around the county. One example is a clerk in the auditor’s office who makes $1,600 below the recommended minimum salary in the study.       

The Archer Co. was asked by county officials last spring to prepare the study. After reviewing the county’s jobs and their respective salaries and titles, the firm brought the results back to council last November.  

“They came in and looked at job classifications, pay raises and pay classifications from surrounding areas, where they compare from government to government,” said County Administrator Steve Willis.

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.  

Despite an annual wage and salary report published by the S.C. Association of Counties, which represents county governments throughout the state, council wanted a list of classifications specific to the county.

Prior to the study, Lancaster County did not have classifications or specific pay ranges set up for its workers. That’s not unusual, as many of the other 45 counties throughout the state do not have  classifications set up either, Willis said.

“It really gets down into management philosophy,” Willis said.

Without pay classifications, Willis said its easier to adjust a person’s pay midyear, which means those who do a good job can see an immediate pay raise. With a compensation plan, Willis said the process is more standardized.

“With this, we try to do pay raises all at once based on a formula,” he said. “But it’s a double-edged sword. If a person does good in December, it may be July before you recognize that person’s productivity.”

Through the compensation and pay classification plan, Willis and other county officials would like to develop a “career ladder” for some of the county jobs.  

One example is creating four levels for the job such as 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.”

Council will consider the salary plan at its Jan. 26 meeting. But council  won’t be considering pay raises for any employees right now. That’s something council will discuss when it works on the county budget later this year.

“Pay raises may be a moot point this year,” Willis said. “Given the wild swings in the economy, it’s too soon to say if there will be any raises.”

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