Study: Windsor town employees underpaid

Published 5:36 pm Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Eleven of Windsor’s 14 town employees currently earn the minimum salary for their positions compared to neighboring localities, according to a classification and compensation study by Baker Tilly Inc.

The remaining three employees are below even the minimum.

The town retained Baker Tilly earlier this year to review its current list of job titles and descriptions, which hasn’t been done by a third-party firm since 2008, and to propose a more uniform pay scale. The resulting study, which the consulting firm completed in July, compared each job title to comparable positions in 13 Virginia localities, seven of which have populations below or comparable to Windsor. Among these were Courtland in Southampton County and Wakefield and Waverly in Sussex County.

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The study also compared Windsor to Smithfield, which has more than 8,000 residents to Windsor’s roughly 2,700, and to Isle of Wight County as a whole, which has a population of just over 37,000. It also looked at the cities of Suffolk and Portsmouth, both of which have upwards of 90,000 residents and therefore, a much larger tax base to fund salary increases.

“Normally, that’s where we lose law enforcement to — those cities,” said Interim Town Manager Sanford “Sandy” Wanner.

In addition to the town’s recent Police Department turnover, it’s also had three planning and zoning administrators since 2016.

“The time spent by current employees covering the void left by the departing employee often diverts their attention from their day-to-day responsibilities, creating overtime demands and often frustration on the part of the remaining employees as they attempt to meet deadlines and maintain acceptable levels of service,” Baker Tilly’s report states. “Finally, after hire, new employees require training at direct or indirect expense. These are some of the hidden and non-quantifiable costs associated with turnover.”

As such, the study recommends the town implement a 35-step pay scale with a 5% difference between each pay grade and an increase of no more than 50% between the minimum and maximum salaries for each grade. The study gives three options for boosting employee pay to reflect the new scale.

The first proposes moving the three employees currently below their recommended minimum salaries to the new minimums, which would add an additional $29,288.17 cost to the $690,727 it already spends each year on salaries. Option No. 2 proposes moving the three below-grade employees to their new minimums and giving everyone else already within the minimum salary range a 2% raise. This would cost the town $39,857.06 annually, or roughly 5.7% more than what it already spends on salaries. Option No. 3 proposes assigning pay grades based on years of service, with a 0.5% increase for each year worked. This would cost the town $55,908.16 annually, or roughly 8% more than what it currently spends on salaries.

All costs reflect base salary alone, and do not include related costs such as fringe benefits. Retaining Baker Tilly to complete the study has already cost the town just over $12,000.

The town was scheduled to discuss Baker Tilly’s results at its Aug. 11 meeting, but by press time on Tuesday, the meeting had yet to begin.