At their June 14th public meeting, the Riley County Board of County Commissioners voted unanimously to approve a proposed 2023 pay scale adjustment for county employees which will go into effect for the December 24, 2022 pay period. With this change, the overall fiscal impact for salaries in the 2023 budget will be $27,997,910.86. This total represents an increase of $2,789,190.78 from the 2022 budget for salaries.
“The need for this salary adjustment has been several years in the making,” said Human Resources Manager Elizabeth Ward. “We’ve seen an increase in turnover and a decrease in hiring ability, with many key positions remaining vacant for several months. All of the services provided by Riley County depend on a well-trained, well-qualified, and committed workforce. Realigning the pay scale will allow us to hire and retain qualified employees, saving the county resources, time, and productivity.”
In addition, at their May 23rd public meeting, Commissioners approved a 2022 mid-year pay increase of 10.5% for county employees. That increase took effect for the July 1 pay date and will include $860,730 in salaries and $339,938 in benefits for a total fiscal impact of $1,200,718 in 2022. The combined increases are intended to be part of an employee retention and recruitment strategy designed to pay Riley County employees at market value, as determined by evaluation of job responsibilities and comparable compensation in the region.
“Unlike the mid-year salary increase, the pay scale adjustment does not provide an across-the-board raise,” said Ward. “Instead, we evaluated each position and made targeted adjustments to bring salaries in line with market rates.”
Riley County is a major employer for the Flint Hills Region with 287 full and part-time employees, not including temporary election workers and volunteer firefighters. After conducting research over the past few months, Ward discovered that most county positions had fallen below the 25th percentile for comparable market value.
“We don’t want to be market leaders or pay more than comparable agencies,” said Ward. “Our goal is to land in the 75th percentile and manage our personnel budget effectively.”
Based on that research, Ward provided Commissioners with three options for salary adjustments during Thursday’s public presentation:
- Merit increases in the form of a step for each position, based in the current pay scales of Riley County for a fiscal impact of $27,163,880.31
- Merit and cost of living adjustment (COLA) increase in the form of a step for each position, based in the current pay scales of Riley County PLUS a 7% Cost of Living Adjustment based on the CPI-U index using the attached proposed pay scales for a fiscal impact of $29,053,451.86.
- Implementation of the salary study recommendations using the adjusted pay scales for a fiscal impact of $27,997,910.86
Commissioners selected the third option, with targeted adjustments for each position based on time in position and job duties as of July 1. In addition, several departments have made efforts to trim the workforce where possible. One example is the Health Department’s decision not to re-hire a vacant Clinic Coordinator position.
“I also want to say thanks to Elizabeth,” said Commissioner John Ford. “Her efforts to perform the salary study herself likely saved Riley County at least $60,00 to $70,000 in consulting fees.”
Riley County Commissioners will continue to review budget proposals for 2023. October 1 is the deadline to submit the approved budget. Commissioners directed Finance and Budget Officer Darell Edie to explore a flat mil levy in the original budget discussions earlier this spring. If approved as changed at the July 14th meeting, the resulting 2023 budget will represent a 0.074 mil levy DECREASE from 2022.