Effective Jan. 1, system applies for non-union and elected officials

OSCEOLA COUNTY — Wages and benefits are important to consider not only when seeking job applicants, but also in keeping current employees.

On Aug. 18, the Osceola County Board of Commissioners voted to change its current pay scale to a new system produced following a classification and compensation study, which compared elected official and non-union positions in Osceola County to the same or similar positions in 12 comparable counties in the state. The new system will take effect on Jan. 1, 2016.

The former scale was a 14-level, five-step scale, offering increases each year to employees.

The new 13-level, 11-step scale offers step increases each year employees have worked, but may move employees up or down a step or level because it is a more condensed system. County employees who attended the meeting spoke up during discussion, saying they were happy the county performed the study and generally feel positively about the new scale, but some aspects of it are flawed.

Commission on Aging Director Scott Schryer offered his point of view on the study, saying he read through the document multiple times to better understand it. He believes the new scale is a positive change and his employees are excited for additional steps. However, he said part-time employees at the COA only increase a step every four years, which will mean decades of work to receive increases in pay with the new scale.

Along with the motion to approve the new pay scale, county commissioners approved a motion to adjust all part-time employee wages to increase a step every two years instead of every four years, also effective on Jan. 1, 2016. The board still has to discuss and vote upon elected officials using the new system.

Equalization Director Rosie McKinstry expressed concern about the new scale not taking into consideration years of service. She said she has worked for the county for more than 40 years and as a department head for more than 20 years, though would only be at a middle level of pay in the new scale. If such a detail wasn't adjusted, she believes it will be unjust.

Other employees also commented, suggesting commissioners be open to hearing arguments for specific employees which department heads feel are receiving less pay, and discussing their concern about the lack of compensation as their responsibilities increase before their anniversary date.

According to County Coordinator Susan Vander Pol, the study gathered salary and benefit data and information from clerks and other department heads in other counties from a questionnaire and survey. Though every county is different, the survey attempted to compare positions to come up with Osceola County's standing in terms of compensation and determine a way to stay at a competitive wage. Vander Pol said the study is in-depth and can be complicated to understand.

Commission Chair Larry Emig also discussed the change, saying the study was necessary to see where the county fell compared to others. He said the scale change helps the county remain in the middle ground in terms of compensation, draw employees and retain employees, even if it means the county providing another $36,000 toward wages and benefits in the general fund. Though the system isn't perfect, he believes the change will be beneficial to the county's employee base.

In other business, county commissioners:

  • approved bids to sell three old sheriff's department vehicles. A 2008 Dodge Charger will be sold for $4,568, the winning bid for a 2009 Ford Fusion was $2,756 and a 2010 Dodge Charger will be sold for $5,048. The winning bidders have two weeks to pay for the vehicle, or it will be awarded to the next highest bidder;
  • approved a motion to show support to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources in its effort to use paved asphalt on the Rails to Trails project instead of crushed limestone;
  • approved a motion to create a part-time position at $14.51 per hour to serve as the county's director of veterans services; and
  • received an update from Osceola County Undersheriff Justin Halladay about the sheriff's office renovation. Halladay said vinyl flooring is being installed this week and the final details are being finished, however he is still waiting on state approval for the fire suppression system before officers are allowed to move into the new areas.