A new study shows employee pay in St. Charles is "very, extremely attractive" compared to other comparable communities. In fact, the study suggested changing the policy to focus on using pay increases as a reward for exemplary service rather than as a method to be competitive with other communities.
The study showed St. Charles pays employees better than 75 percent of comparable communities. Part of that relates to the city's policy of giving new employees 3.96 percent raises until reaching the midpoint of the salary range for their position. Employees receive those raises as long as there are no "needs improvement" scores on their assessments. Most employees reach the midpoint of their salary range in five years as a result of that practice. After attaining the midpoint, employees get raises based on a combination of an across-the-board annual pay hike for all city employees plus any merit increase a direct supervisor deems fit.
No other communities in the study pay their employees that way. The consultants suggested St. Charles shouldn't pay their employees that way, either. There should be more emphasis on rewarding for performance. And the citywide pay increase should be a more important factor for employees on the top rungs of management because it is a reflection on the overall performance of the city, consultants said. The only real way to give an employee a significant pay increase right now is through promotion. However, there are few positions available to promote employees.
It's because of that the consultants also suggested rewriting the pay grades for a variety of positions to alter the maximum pay amounts. The city has so many long-term employees on staff right now that there is little distinction in the value of the jobs because the current pay grades are so similar.
Aldermen only reviewed a presentation of the report Monday night. No changes implemented would necessarily put more pressure on the budget. The consultants did not recommend setting aside more money for employee salaries. All the suggestions came with the foundation of only changing the way city officials distribute the current amount of funds designated for employee pay.