Pay raises recommended to address Columbus employee shortages

Published: Jul. 26, 2022 at 11:20 PM EDT
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COLUMBUS, Ga. (WTVM) - A pay study assessing how hundreds of people are paid in the Fountain City is finally complete.

Tuesday, the results were presented at the city council meeting with recommendations on how the city can address staffing shortages and retention issues.

The study indicates employees across Columbus are not advancing at their jobs, and some are even being the same as new hires. However, a financial consultant presented several ways to combat those issues along with recruitment problems.

In April, there were over 100 vacancies at the Columbus Police Department. With that in mind, amid growing safety concerns in the community, the city launched a comprehensive pay plan study to find ways to address staffing issues across several industries.

Part of the study involved employees completing surveys about their job. While many are happy with benefits like paid time off and health care, some are frustrated by low pay, not advancing at their job, being paid the same as new hires and an increased workload without the pay grade to match.

“In some grades, more than 10% of the employees are making as much or more than their supervisors,” said Financial Consultant Mark Holcombe with Everygreen Solutions, LLC.

Holcombe is part of the team that conducted the pay study. He says results indicate as many as 40% of Columbus tenured employees are not paid for the time they’ve put in. Holcombe adds salaries are behind compared to 19 other markets across Georgia and Alabama.

“The actual unadjusted results that we returned -- do show you almost 10 percent behind the market at the minimum,” said Holcombe.

But he offered various recommendations. The first solution would be adopting an adjusted pay scale and payment plan to allow fair and equitable compensation and consistent progression between pay grades.

His second possible fix, “We did assign each classification in the city to a new pay grade that we believe puts them in a market-competitive as well as internally equitable position,” said Holcombe.

With critical public safety vacancies, he also recommended increasing their starting pay.

“We are recommending again that the police officer, sheriff’s deputy, firefighters start at $45,000. That is before the OLOST supplement that they would keep,” said Holcombe, also suggested raising starting pay for certain jobs requiring a commercial driver’s license to $21 an hour.

The financial consultant will now meet with department heads across several industries to discuss pay recommendations for each employee. However, the Columbus council is not expected to officially vote on adopting those pay recommendations until the last couple weeks of August.

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