The Waupaca County Board approved a pay-for-performance plan for all employees at a special meeting Monday, Sept. 17.
The new pay plan replaces all union contracts, except for officers in the Waupaca County Sheriff’s Department, who were exempted under Gov. Scott Walker’s Act 10.
Telecommunications and corrections officers in the sheriff’s department, however, were not exempted and will be paid according to the new plan.
The county has more than 400 employees and a $17 million payroll. The average annual wage for a county employee is $42,500.
Charlie Carlson, a Madison consultant hired by the county to study its employee classification and compensation system, presented his findings to the board Monday.
Carlson said that prior to Act 10, the county had nine different wage schedules and contracts with seven different unions. There were a total of 54 pay grades and 212 job classifciations.
“We have people in different bargaining units doing similar work but getting different rates of pay,” Carlson said.
He noted that the contract for highway workers had six grades, 29 classes and two steps, while the contract for non-professional staff had 10 grades, 40 classes and five steps.
As employees moved up the steps in their contract, they received automatic pay raises, ranging from 2.5 percent to 6 percent.
“I don’t know many people who get 5 to 6 percent raises every year, automatically,” Carlson said.
Under the county’s new compensation system, nine compensation plans will be replaced by three plans.
A plan for appointed directors, a general plan for most staff with steps based upon performance and a separate plan for staff at Lakeview Manor.
The new plan has 27 grades, 139 classificationss and six steps.
Under the new pay-for-performance plan, there would only be six steps for pay increases over a five-year span for most employees.
Employees will be graded at three different levels, ranging from exceeding expectations, meeting expectations to somewhat below expectations.
Those that exceed expectations will receive a 3.75 percent raise when they move up a step. Those that meet expectations will receive a 2.5 percent raised and thoae that are below expectations will receive a 1.25 percent increase.
“Pay steps should require a performance review that at least meets expectations,” Carlson said.
Carlson began his study by evaluating each job according to five factors: education and required experience, the need for decision-making, thinking challenges, communications skills and working conditions. He gave each of these factors points and devised a formula relating pay to the points.
Carlson also reviewed salaries and benefits for comparable jobs in both the private and public sector to determine base pay.
“Up until now, public service was precluded by law from looking at anything other than other public sector entities,” Carlson said. “This created an imbalance between the private and public sector in terms of benefits and base pay.”
He found the compensation for most county employees to be in line with the labor market.
However, Lakeview Manor employees were being paid at below market rates, while 102 county employees were being paid above the maximum amount offered for their categories under the new plan.
Carlson said the county should “red-circle” those employees and not give them raises.
Amanda Welch, the county personnel director, said that the positions that are being red-circled are predominantly clerical, corrections officers and front-line highway department workers, such as patrolmen and truck drivers.
Carlson told the county supervisors that they could expect significant savings due to turnover.
He also said the county will need to demand that employees pay a higher portion of their health insurance premium. He said premiums for a family plan will rise to $18,000 by 2014 and to $36,000 by 2020.
“You have to come down harder in terms of your employee health insurance plan,” Carlson said.
The county must still determine many of the details of the new pay plan. It will be implemented on Jan. 1, 2013.