Town eyes across-the-board pay raises to stay competitive in labor market |

Town eyes across-the-board pay raises to stay competitive in labor market

Merit increase, adjustments to pay structure could come as soon as July for municipal workers

The Snowmass Town Council has its eyes on across-the-board raises for municipal employees to keep wages competitive. A person walks outside Town Hall on Tuesday, May 3, 2022. (Kelsey Brunner/Snowmass Sun)

The town of Snowmass Village is looking to make a significant investment in pay raises for municipal employees to ensure that its wages remain competitive in the labor market after reviewing the results of a compensation study at a May 2 Town Council meeting.

Council will need to allocate funding via an ordinance but members were very receptive to a presentation from Graves HR Consulting’s Laurie Graves, who recommended across-the-board pay increases for town staff. Graves took the lead on the market analysis across all town positions; the study compared wages with those at other mountain-town municipalities.

That study found that though “the town’s pay structures are well organized and have been well maintained structurally,” current labor market conditions warrant the increase to stay competitive, according to the presentation.

“I think it’s really important to invest in our most important resource, and that’s the people who work here,” Mayor Bill Madsen said.

All employees would receive a 5% merit increase for 2022, according to Graves’ recommendations.

Then, all positions would move to a new pay structure, which includes a 6% increase across the board in pay ranges for all town departments. Also, 46 positions will be “upgraded,” meaning that the range for that job title will move up in pay grade. Those “upgrades” would help keep pay scales competitive for some positions where the pay hasn’t “kept pace” with the experience and tenure of the employees in those roles, Graves said.

Over the course of 12 months, the cost of the increases the town would be nearly $1.6 million. Graves projected the cost of the 5% merit increase would be $475,903. The cost of full implementation for the structure adjustment and position-specific upgrades would be $1.09 million.

Council already approved an appropriation of about $467,000 for pay increases in the 2022 budget but will need to appropriate additional funds to implement all of the recommended increases, according to an agenda summary for the discussion.

Those numbers have been “annualized” to represent what the cost would be for a full year, but the actual spending would be about half of that in 2022 because town staff would aim to implement the raises by the first pay period in July, according to Town Manager Clint Kinney. Moving forward, council would appropriate funds to accommodate the new structures as part of the annual budget process, he said in an interview after the meeting.

Kinney and town finance director Marianne Rakowski indicated at the meeting that they were confident the full implementation of pay raises would work within the town’s budget thanks to bolstered tax revenue.

Employees would see all increases and upgrades apply to their paycheck at the same time, Graves said at the meeting.

Each employee’s raise would put them in the same relative position of the new pay range as they were before. An employee who earned pay in the midpoint of the range before would shift up to the midpoint of the new range, for example.

The minimum pay raise would be $3 per hour; Graves estimated there were “maybe 18” employees who wouldn’t have gotten at least a $3 per hour raise with the new calculation, and the consulting team wanted to ensure at least that much in a raise for all employees.

About a dozen employees who are already “topped out” on their pay scales wouldn’t receive a full 11% raise of the merit increase and structure adjustments compared with what they were making before because that would put them over the maximum of the pay grade, but they will still make the top pay in their designated range, Kinney and Graves said at the meeting.

Council directed staff to prepare an ordinance approving the additional appropriation at the meeting. They’ll need to vote on the ordinance to make it official.

The first reading of that ordinance could happen May 16, with a second reading on June 6, according to an agenda summary for the discussion. That would allow the pay increases to begin in July.

Editor’s note: This story was originally published in the May 4 edition of The Snowmass Sun. It was later posted online on May 15 due to a previous web publishing error.

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around Aspen and Snowmass Village make the Aspen Times’ work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.