Fort Smith employee study encourages pay hikes at all levels

FORT SMITH – Revamped pay scales and improved wages and benefits were recommended in a study to keep the city competitive in hiring and retaining qualified employees.

Blair Johanson, president of the Fayetteville-based Johanson Group, briefed the city’s board of directors on the findings and recommendations of a salary and benefits study the company conducted for the city during the session study board Tuesday. He proposed adopting new pay scales for uniformed and uniformed municipal employees next year based on the study’s findings, which would lead to pay increases.

Rick Lolley, the city’s director of human resources, wrote in a note that the board discussed the need to provide city employees with competitive salaries and benefits at their April 23 workshop. The latest salary and benefits study, carried out in 2019, resulted in an overhaul of the salary structure and an increase in the starting salary for full-time workers.

Johanson said the 2021 study had several goals. One was to ensure that the city’s compensation system offers ‘fair and equitable wages’ based on internal job requirements and external pay with comparable positions in the region, including those in the public and public sectors. private. The system must also be flexible enough to adapt to the changing needs of the city, as well as successfully attracting and retaining talented employees in a financially responsible manner.

The study included an internal analysis of jobs in the city and an external study of market wages and benefits. There was also a study of the external market step-by-step compensation plan for uniformed positions in the fire and police services.

Johanson said that in the city’s new recommended pay schedule for non-uniform employees, the city’s lowest-paid positions, which represents part-time employees, would have a starting salary of 11.54 $ per hour. This would put wages above the Arkansas minimum hourly wage, which has risen from $ 8.50 to $ 11 since 2018.

The starting salary for the city’s lowest-paying full-time positions in the salary grid would drop from $ 12.95 to $ 13.54 an hour, Johanson said. Current employees would also receive percentage pay increases, the amount of which would depend on their position’s position in the updated pay scale.

The proposed salary scale for uniformed employees would increase the starting annual salary for entry-level police and fire service positions by 4% to $ 40,120 and $ 37,856, respectively.

According to Eric Garvin, the city’s deputy director of human resources, the salary scale would increase step increases, or salary increases based on job performance and time on duty, for each rank in the police service and fire of about 4% as well.

Johanson also detailed the social benefits the city could improve based on comparisons with other entities. These included retirement, sick days and vacation days for non-uniformed employees, and medical insurance coverage.

This briefing sparked nearly an hour of discussion from the board of directors on how to proceed with the study’s recommendations with the money the city has available. Johanson did not indicate how much it would cost the city to adopt all of these suggestions at the meeting.

Fort Smith’s 2021 budget is $ 122.9 million, according to city records.

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Vacancies in Fort Smith

Fort Smith has 728 full-time non-uniform positions with 91 vacancies as of Thursday. The Fire Department has 149 full-time uniformed positions with four vacancies while the Police Department has 164 with 25 vacant positions. At the same time, the city has one vacancy among its current 11 non-uniform part-time positions and 10 vacancies in its 14 non-uniform seasonal positions.

Source: Eric Garvin, Assistant Director of Human Resources at Fort Smith

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