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DeKalb City Council OKs $56K contract to review employee compensation

DeKALB – The city of DeKalb is going to take a closer look at employee salaries and benefits.

The DeKalb City Council on Monday unanimously approved a $56,000 contract with the firm Sikich LLP to complete a pay, compensation and classification study that will examine the salaries, benefits and performance reviews for the city’s 35 nonunion positions and review job descriptions for all 196 full-time city positions.

The city last reviewed nonunion employees’ pay in 2003 and its performance review system in 2006. Job descriptions have been subject to even less change. Some job descriptions have been updated in recent years while others haven’t been touched since 1998, said Assistant City Manager Rudy Espiritu.

Greg Kuhn, a partner with Sikich, told aldermen such studies are common among municipalities, especially since the economy started to rebound from the 2008 recession.

Mayor John Rey said he’s looking forward to seeing what recommendations will come from the consultants’ expertise.

“I think it’s important to undertake a comprehensive study,” Rey said. “We have done things on a piecemeal basis before. So I’m pleased to see it organized in a comprehensive manner.”

Sikich will break the study into three parts. In the first part, consultants will examine and make recommendations on salary ranges, merit pay, benefits, compensatory time and the defined work week for the city’s nonunion employees. Nonunion employees include department heads such as the city manager, police and fire chiefs and director of public works, as well as division heads and administrative staff.

Recommendations will be based on comparable communities and could result in the city changing the way it classifies nonunion employees for salary purposes.

Under the city’s current merit system, nonunion employees are part of a multitiered program that gives them a pay raise if they have met their goals as determined by their supervisor. In the first year, they receive a 16 percent pay increase; after that, they receive a 2 percent increase up to their 12th year. After the 12th year, the only raise city employees see is through the cost of living adjustment.

Another part of the study will entail Sikich consultants reviewing the system used to measure nonunion employees’ performance. Sikich consultants also will review the job descriptions for all full-time employees, both nonunion and union.

While the firm might bring pieces of the study results forward to the council at different times throughout the length of the study, the firm expects to complete the study by early 2015.

“I think some of this information is best for a workshop situation,” Kuhn said.

What’s next?

For the next five months, consultants with Sikich LLP will study salary ranges and benefits and job descriptions for 35 nonunion positions. After that, they will review job descriptions for 196 full-time nonunion and union employees. The full study should be complete by early 2015.

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