Routt County reworks employee pay scale allowing more room for advancement
Change hopes to limit need for additional commissioner approval when making new hires
Routt County is overhauling its pay scales in an effort to put employee pay more in line with the current hiring landscape and provide employees more room for advancement.
On Tuesday, Nov. 15, county commissioners approved the changes, which set the median pay for a job at step three rather than where it is now at step six, and gives employees the ability to grow into additional steps.
The move also hopes to limit when staff needs to get commissioners’ approval for a new hire above step three. Human Resources Director Kathy Nelson said as many as half of new hires recently have been requiring that extra step of approval.
“As we’ve discussed, it feels pretty obvious when you’re consistently making exceptions that something needs to be fixed,” said Commissioner Beth Melton. “Having a policy that encourages hiring people below the midpoint doesn’t really make a lot of sense, and so this is just cleaning that up and really saying that we want to be paying the market rate for these positions.”
The change essentially turns step three into step one, and step six into step three. This means that the current top of the pay scale, step 11, will become step eight, giving employees more room for advancement over time. Nelson said if an employee meets the job requirements, they would now typically be hired at step three rather than step six, giving new hires more room to grow as well.
There is roughly a 3% raise that comes with a step increase, Nelson said. Plus, the county generally gives a cost-of-living adjustment to staff. This year that adjustment is expected to be close to 7%.
The change is expected to go into effect Jan. 1 for most of the county’s positions, but it will not impact the county’s lowest earners. Those employees received a raise in April that brought the minimum wage for most positions to $20 an hour or $14 an hour for tipped positions.
Nelson said these employees are being left out of changes for now because the previous increases compressed the pay difference between supervisors and those who would report to them. Most of these positions are at the Yampa Valley Regional Airport, which has seen better hiring numbers since the April raises went into effect, said Airport Director Kevin Booth.
The changes also won’t include the Routt County Sheriff’s Office either, which has an entirely different step program for deputy pay.
The estimated cost for these changes is about $350,000 in 2023, though that number included making changes at the sheriff’s office, so the actual cost will likely come in lower, Nelson said.
These changes will show up on postings for county jobs, with the lower end of the spectrum increasing. Nelson said the county is also starting to display what step 11 would pay on postings to give interested applicants an idea of what they could make if they stick around.
“If I was out there working, I would feel better because I am not seeing this wall — I have room to grow within the organization,” said Commissioner Tim Redmond. “I think this is a nice realignment and it gets us to where we need to be.”
To reach Dylan Anderson, call 970-871-4247 or email danderson@SteamboatPilot.com.
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