Prince William Supervisors Approve Increase to County Employees’ Pay Scale

| November 21, 2019 | 0 Comments | News

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Prince William County Executive Christopher Martino.

Before turning over the dais to a majority of new board member in January, the Prince William County Supervisors approved a new employee classification pay scale system, Tuesday, that would provide raises to the vast majority of general county employees.

The purpose of the pay increases is to provide competitive and equitable compensation for the retention and recruiting of employees. Currently, the retention rate is suffering as the pay scale within Prince William has not been revised in approximately 20 years. Safety and rescue personnel have already received pay adjustments and educators are funded at the discretion of the school board.

The total cost of the pay adjustments would be $16 million with $5.5-6 million already funded by existing rollover funds.

Chairman At-large Corey Stewart (R) said to not implement this immediately would lead to more employees leaving, especially since they are now anticipating these raises. In the 1990s not adjusting the pay scale in a timely manner led to a mass exodus of  employees before the board finally adopted a new pay scale.

When this happens, the county loses experienced people and county services suffer, he argued. “It’s long overdue. Our employees have shown a lot of patience,” Stewart said.

A long recession, beginning in 2008 delayed the creation of a new pay scale. The board then prioritized police, fire and other emergency responders. As other jurisdictions offered post-recession increases, the board felt an adjustment was necessary to stay competitive. They began looking into changes two years ago.

The implementation of the plan would be broken into two phases. In Phase I, all employees making below the starting salaries within their new classification would be bumped to the beginning tier. Phase I would be implemented on Jan. 11, 2020. The cost of Phase I will have zero impact. It will be funded by existing vacancies within departments and turnovers.

In Phase II, county employees would be bumped to their proper pay grade according to their years of employment with the county or other jurisdictions. Phase II would go into effect in fiscal year 2021. The new board would need to find $11 million to fund it during their next budget cycle.

The new formula compresses classifications, making the scale more efficient. Pay scales are based upon a collaboration with Gallagher Benefit Services and input from county employees. It creates equity based upon race, gender and regardless of age, and meets all legal requirements.

According to the new system, starting salary for the lowest level full-time would be $18,00 per year. The top tier salary for the highest level employee is $229.8 thousand per year. Only 18 employees would not receive a raise according to the new plan.

The vote in approval of the pay scale was 7-1. Reelected Gainesville Supervisor Pete Candland (R) voted against it. He said he supports the new scale, but believes it lacks the necessary analysis on how to pay for Phase II. He is uncomfortable to sticking the taxpayers with a higher tax bill. He noted the new board wanted also wanted to reducing school trailers and fund major roads improvements.

Other supervisors said there were always obligations and they are always stretched thin.

The four supervisors and the chairman all of whom would not be returning, argued that this was their responsibility. They proposed it, they ordered the study, they were briefed for some time by the county executive. They did not want to “kick the can down the road” and risk losing valued employees.

Reelected Brentsville Supervisor Jeanine Lawson (R), also had concerns, saying $11 million is “a lot of money.” Nonetheless she supported the resolution. “It was a commitment we made to honor.” She guaranteed she would look for cuts within the budget rather than just raising taxes.

Victor Angry (D), Reelected Neabsco Supervisor, said it was time for “a shock to the system.” He amended the resolution so that the new board would be briefed on how the implementation was going, and that was the resolution that passed.

© 2019, Bristow Beat. All rights reserved.

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