The Transylvania Times -

Board Right To Increase Salaries


July 25, 2019

The Transylvania County Board of Commissioners are to be commended for voting unanimously to implement a new pay plan that would increase salaries for county employees. Implementation of the plan is estimated to cost $2.7 million, but the cost will be even higher since the board also agreed to implement a COLA (cost of living adjustment) in February.

For the past several years, the county has lost some of its better employees to neighboring counties. Instead of just relying on anecdotal evidence that those employees were leaving for better pay and benefits, the county performed its due diligence by hiring Evergreen Solutions, LLC, to compare and analyze the county’s pay structure with nearby government entities. The information and analysis provided by Evergreen revealed that not only has the county been paying less than other nearby counties, but that employees were not advancing through their salary ranges. Statistically, nearly two-thirds (65.7) percent of county employees are being paid in lowest quartile of their pay range. Thus, many county employees with years of experience have not been much more than newcomers to the same job. Regardless of education and experience, salaries were being “compressed” into the lowest pay ranges.

The plan voted on by the commissioners should help alleviate these problems.

The readjustment of salaries should bring pay in line with employees’ qualifications and contributions and the COLA should provide increases to keep pace with inflation.

The cost of implementing this pay plan is not insignificant. These increases are not a one-time bonus, so the increases will be a recurring expense in the county budget. By adding the COLA, additional expenses could be in the neighborhood of $3 million a year.

Undoubtedly, the increase in employees’ salaries will mean less money to spend in other areas. But county employees are the most important asset a county has. It does not matter if our public safety complex or library are technologically modern and attractive if the employees who work in those buildings are mediocre or worse. Although up-to-date structures can be beneficial, the services are provided by the employees, not the structures.

Recruiting and retaining qualified employees is essential to the success of any organization. Losing good employees is detrimental in several ways. While much information is retained in government documents, experienced employees retain a great deal of information that cannot be found in those documents. Go to any office and if the newest employee cannot find the necessary information, the more experienced employee often can.

Whenever the county hires a new employee, it has to train that individual. The person doing the training has to spend time away from their everyday tasks. That can create short-term inefficiencies. The higher employee turnover there is, the more inefficiencies there are.

Transylvania County is a special place. The adage “you get what you pay for” is generally true. If we want to have high-quality governmental employees to provide us the services we need, then we need to pay them competitive salaries, even if it is going to cost us, the taxpayers, more.


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