published Monday, June 25th, 2012

Bradley County pay study progresses

Mark Hall is the Vice Chairman of the Bradley County Commission.
Mark Hall is the Vice Chairman of the Bradley County Commission.

CLEVELAND, Tenn. -- A Bradley County employee compensation study panel has achieved its first benchmark: commitments of cooperation from most of the county's departments.

Last week, the county Compensation Committee discussed the next steps to develop a uniform job and salary grade system that may include a merit pay program for all county employees.

Panel officials agreed the lack of a countywide compensation plan should be addressed, as departments have been left to implement their own plans.

A key to creating a unified system will be accurate job data from the departments, which includes detailed job descriptions, requisite training, and salary and benefits, said Renee Samples, county human resources director.

The panel wants to assure elected officials of its intentions, said Mark Hall, vice chairman of the Bradley County Commission.

"We're here to help improve things for everybody," he said. "We're seeking 100 percent [participation]."

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Samples said her next move will be to collect job data from other counties, and she named Rutherford County as a primary source. Samples praised the comprehensive and accessible nature of that county's job classification system.

Beyond data gathering, the panel needs to determine how it will implement the study, she said.

The panel discussed the pros and cons of three alternatives: external audits, internal audits and compensation study software.

An external audit likely would be the least biased, but it would add costs because the county would need a new analysis when it actually has the money to implement merit pay. Also, external audit recommendations may not be readily adaptable.

Samples said an internal audit has the potential to be skewed, and she advised that such a task also would be quite an undertaking for her small staff.

Compensation comparison software has upfront and ongoing costs, she said, citing the need for a person to input and maintain job data. However, she said, using the software would be only a matter of plugging in compensation information gathered from Bradley and other counties.

While the panel made no decisions on the study method, officials agreed that whatever alternative they choose, it must provide accurate results at a low cost.

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