City of Columbus employee pay study causing more questions than answers

Published: Aug. 30, 2022 at 5:43 PM EDT
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COLUMBUS, Ga. (WTVM) - A pay study for Columbus City employees has been underway for months, and after a controversial first discussion at last week’s city council meeting, a second one happened Tuesday at city council.

A pay study of this type has not been conducted since 2006. The city is working hard to recruit more employees right now, but retention could be at stake as several workers are not happy with the proposed pay plan.

The tension was high as the city’s Human Resource Director presented her recent findings, causing more questions than answers.

Teresa Snellings who has been with Columbus Parks and Recreation for at least 30 years said a lot of her employees feel like this study simply isn’t fair.

“Now, I only make $900 more than one of my employees who is five grades lower than me, but I am still expected to preform all these same duties at the same rate, so what is my recourse,” Snellings questioned council.

More than 2,600 employees’ pay plans are under review. Salaries in question include both government and public safety workers.

The plan is organized by grade classifications: Grades 6-13 are on average the lowest paid employees who would receive the highest increase. Public safety, for example, is the middle tier, then higher paid employees would receive an 8% increase.

But like Snellings, other employees feel the proposed pay increases are unfair because it doesn’t take into account the total amount of years worked... just the current time one has worked in their current position.

“We’re six pay grades behind public works, and now that’s one of the areas we can’t even challenge, Snellings expressed. “That is one of the things we are most concerned about.”

One of the main concerns: the pay study correction process request which only allows employees to correct their date of hire, last class date and job title-- nothing to do with the pay grade, rate or comparison.

“There’s some concern that if it’s not correct going into the new program that it will create compression all over again,” Councilman Bruce Huff said. “We have some people who have been here a long time, and that’s not taken into consideration”

“I have received a complaint about an employee who says my placement on this schedule and the placement of other people who do the same job I do is wrong,” Councilor Judy Thomas said. “I’m the only one they can complain to because the next sentence they say is they are afraid of retaliation.”

Another goal is to make sure the minimum pay for all full time employees 15 dollars an hour.

The second reading and possible vote on this pay study is happening at city council in two weeks.