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Pay scale changes for Farmington city workers

Farmington City Council members have approved the first phase of a process to make the salaries of Farmington city employees more competitive with similar salaries in the market.

On Monday, council members approved implementation of a new 11-step wage scale that will start with adjusting the salaries of non-union city employees.

Earlier this year, the city hired consultant Fox Lawson to complete a wage study for all of the city’s positions except for police officers. Results of the study showed that Farmington’s salaries are 5.6 percent below the market average. The starting salaries, according to city administrator David McKnight, are 5.2 percent below the market, but the top salaries are 4.2 percent above the market average.

The current wage range spread for Farmington is 35 to 45 percent, while the market average is 26 percent.

The Fox Lawson study suggested a new, 11-step wage scale that would provide salary increases for city employees based on positive performance evaluations and years of employment. Under this proposal, a new employee starts at step one and moves to the step two after a year of employment.

“This does complement our HR policies when it comes to the administration of these particular steps,” council member Doug Bonar said. “They are based upon achievement and a positive evaluation.”

The study showed that some of the current wages do not fit into the 11-step wage scale system. Those whose current wages fall below the step associated with their current employment record will have their wages adjusted as of Jan. 1, 2014. Those whose wages are above the step associated with their current employment record will have their salaries frozen until the new non-union wage scale catches up to their salaries.

The structure for McKnight’s own salary is reduced by approximately $13,000 by this formula. His is the top salary in the city of Farmington in the current scale, but will be reduced under the new 11-step system.

The 11-step wage scale system approved Monday is only for non-union city staff members at this time. It does not apply to the salaries of the city’s unionized staff members. The city of Farmington is currently negotiating contracts with all four of the city’s bargaining units, McKnight said. There is funding allocated in the 2014 budget to make the necessary adjustments if the 11-step wage scale is applied to the unionized staff members.

The 11-step wage scale will also eliminate the need for a merit pay system in place at the city.

“I think overall there are many good things coming out of this,” McKnight said.

The cost to implement the 11-step wage scale for the entire city staff is just under $40,000.

Michelle Leonard

Michelle Leonard joined the Woodbury Bulletin staff in November, 2014, after 14 years covering news for the Bulletin's sister publication, the Farmington Rosemount Independent Town Pages.  Michelle earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Mass Communications: News-Editorial from Mankato State University in 1991. She is an active member of the American Legion Auxiliary Clifford Larson Unit 189 of Farmington, and served as the 2014-15 Third District President to the American Legion Auxiliary Department of Minnesota. Michelle is also the volunteer coordinator for the Minnesota Newspaper Museum which is open annually during the Minnesota State Fair. She has earned Minnesota Newspaper Association awards in Investigative Reporting, Local News Coverage, Feature Photography and Column Writing. 

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