City considers merit pay plan
Marion City Council on Monday approved a 2 percent pay raise for all employees except department heads. City administrator Roger Holter said the raise was mostly a cost-of-living adjustment.
The increase was budgeted into the 2014 budget and it will take effect in January.
The increase is the first across-the-board increase for the majority of city workers since 2009. Some employees received a raise in 2011, and then in 2012. The rest of the employees who did not receive a raise in 2011 and 2012 received a slight increase this year.
In a work session Monday, Holter outlined his plans for moving forward with the city’s pay plan.
In a presentation before council members, he outlined his plan for a pay by merit scale. The scale would award employees based on three criteria: personnel evaluations, customer service, and financial responsibility of their city department.
“We need to make sure all departments are best utilizing the budget the council provides them with, to better serve residents,” Holter said.
The plan consists of a low, middle, and high pay point for each city employee. Employees are evaluated on their job performance based on select criteria. Those who consistently receive good reviews by peers, supervisors, and residents they interact with will be eligible for pay increases up to 2 percent. Those who receive bad reviews will not be eligible.
“It’s going to be a major shift in our government work process,” Holter said. “I believe this process will better utilize the creativity and ownership to take the city forward.”
If the council approves the new pay plan, it will be implemented during the 2015 budget year.
“There are a lot of outside forces that act on the city that we can do nothing to change, however we can change our customer delivery and service within our city,” Holter said. “The city is a business and we need to run the city as a for-profit business and promote cross training and interdepartmental support. The system will focus more on behaviors rather than tasks.”
Holter believes the proposed system will foster entrepreneurship and help employees take ownership of their work.
“No one supervisor will have more than five people under their supervision,” Holter said. “That gives supervisors a better chance at knowing their workers strengths and weaknesses so supervisors can send their workers out on sites that better suite their skills.”
Holter said his vision is for residents to be totally connected via social media and smart phones.
“Kids at Marion High School send hundreds of text messages while sitting in class, there’s no reason our residents can’t pick up their phone and contact the city about things we’re doing wrong, doing right, or need to be done,” he said. “The world we live in has changed and we are not just looking for great people who are great at doing their jobs, but can’t interact with people to fill positions. We’re always on stage and we need people who represent the city in positive ways.”
“I think the best way would be to develop surveys and follow ups to see how employees are doing when they respond to a work order,” council member Todd Heitschmidt said. “We’ve done about what is as fair as can be for everyone here going forward.”
The council will readdress the merit pay question in April.