County considers compensation study

FRONT ROYAL – County officials hope a compensation study will provide a perspective on how local government employees’ salaries compare to surrounding localities.

The Board of Supervisors last week issued two bid requests to determine costs of a lone county study and a joint effort with the school system.

Supervisor Linda Glavis said it “would be a good idea to do it with the schools – I mean they seem to have some money somewhere.”

Human Resources Director Jodi Saffelle said the study would help address why “we have many offices that have experienced difficulty in recruiting and retaining qualified employees” and why the county is often a “training ground” for surrounding localities with higher salaries.

County Administrator Doug Stanley said the study would “give us some options and tell us where we’re at and give us some options on how to get where we need to be.”

Stanley said local salaries will never compete with Fairfax because “we don’t have the tax base.” The county should, however, be competitive regionally.

He noted that the county’s salaries are typically “a notch” behind Frederick County, which is the “600-pound gorilla” that drives regional pay. Local salaries are, however, typically “a notch” above Shenandoah County and “a couple of notches” above Page County.

Saffelle said the county last conducted a compensation study in August 2008 through the firm Springsted. The recession rendered it impossible to implement just “minimal” findings until 2013.

In those interceding five years, she said that two bonuses were given but no salary increases.

She said items that were not factored into raises included years of service, education levels, and “things of that nature.” Several public service positions, such as Fire and Rescue and Sheriff’s Office captains, received about $8,000 raises. Others received 2 1/2 percent step increases.

“Then we’ve had employees who fell in the gap and didn’t get anything at all,” Saffelle said.

She said any results from a new study would not be implemented this budget year, but the county should “get it started.”

Stanley agreed and said the study would likely not be completed until December, and implementing its findings would be a long process.