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Personnel Board Explains Study to Selectmen

With the goal of getting the results of its "Classification and Compensation Study" adopted at this year's Annual Town Meeting, the Personnel Board met with the Board of Selectmen on April 11 to walk them through the new process the Personnel Board is recommending. A similar meeting is scheduled with the Finance Committee on April 27.

If the study is implemented, the main result would be eliminating the practice of giving non-union employees a set percentage pay raise – such as two percent – each year. Instead, these employees' compensation would be based on figures pegged to what similar positions are paid in a set of comparison communities. For the coming fiscal year, implementing the study would cost the town an additional $3,853 – 0.39 percent – than a set two percent increase would cost. The additional cost would be $24,560, or 2.25 percent more, in Fiscal Year 2018 and $29,626, or 2.87 percent more, in Fiscal Year 019, according to Personnel Board Chair Charles Abrahamson and consultant Donald Jacobs.

Abrahamson explained that the study focused on 25 salaried and 36 hourly paid positions that are not represented by any union. His board has spent the past 15 months to address 16 years of changes in town government – such as watching elected positions become appointed ones and seeing new ones, such as those related to Information Technology (IT), be created, he said. Most importantly, Abrahamson wanted selectmen to understand that "This is not an economic study; it is a market equity study."

Jacobs, who worked with the Personnel Board, said the study recommends a process that sets five grade levels for salaried employees and three grade levels for hourly paid employees. "The grade levels are meant to represent different levels of [job] responsibility," he explained.

"There's an awful lot of information to absorb here," Selectmen Chairman William Buckley commented, noting he wanted to hear the Finance Committee's reaction to the study. He also asked that Finance Director Zachary Taylor review it, but Abrahamson told Buckley that Taylor was involved throughout the study process.

"It sounds very complicated to manage this going forward," Selectman Brian Murray commented. "You really shouldn't have to adjust the [salary] ranges that frequently," Jacob said. Dennis Carroll of the Personnel Board explained that position salaries would have to be surveyed every three years.

Selectman William Kingkade – who served as his board's liaison to the Personnel Board over the past year – noted that "the [salary ranges] are wide enough so that there is growth, quite ample enough, in these positions."

The Personnel Board's next steps are to meet with the Finance Committee and schedule meetings with employees covered by the study to discuss how the compensation for each of their individual jobs would be affected, Abrahamson explained. "I look forward to hearing what the Finance Committee has for feedback," Buckley said.


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