Brian Connolly, MPA

I attended a luncheon sponsored by a local bank and had the opportunity to sit at the table with their President/CEO. We discussed salary growth in our community and he commented: your organization should decide what the proper salary range is for a given role and then not adjust it unless there is dramatic change in the economy or responsibilities. Do that by conducting surveys and studies, but don’t let these tools drive your decision making.

Good points. If I feel a secretary position should earn $27K-$40K per year, then new hires should know what their max salary is for the position they are accepting. The pay scale has a beginning and an end. But saying “freeze their pay” harms the people and the organization. Talk salary growth in the context of position realignment, position necessity, responsibilities and skills. Incorporate the needs of the organization into the discussion. Focus on the affect of the growth and how to mitigate it or control it rather than making an across the board decision.

As a finance person, I’m suspicious when I hear the words salary surveys, negotiated agreements, employee tenure, mission creep, incumbent value and local politics (in general). Each of these, separately or combined, can have a devastating effect on salary expenses. Be leery of them!
I pose that you have to examine each service delivery area and decide what is crucial to the mission and what is not, what can be maintained and what should not. Merely cutting or freezing demonstrates a lack of creative problem solving skills. I always ask, “Is there a better way?”. If I hear “No”, then I know someone didn;t do their homework.

I wouldn’t simply freeze pay or cut services. At least, not after discussing and studying how to better manage public financial resources. We owe the public that. Which is done first? In my plans, they have equal weight.