Consultant to help with pay study in Bradley County

Consultant to help with pay study in Bradley County

August 5th, 2012 by Paul Leach in News

Bradley County Courthouse building in Cleveland, Tenn.

Photo by Jenna Walker /Times Free Press.

CLEVELAND, Tenn. - Bradley County officials are seeking advice on the best way to create a uniform salary system for county employees.

On Monday, the county's compensation study panel will meet with Gary Hayes, a consultant with the County Technical Assistance Service.

"Gary Hayes has had a lot of experience helping other counties do what we are trying to do, and I think he can help us avoid some stumbling blocks," said Terry Caywood, chairman of the study panel. "We are short-handed, and we will take any free advice we can get."

One of the driving forces behind the committee's work is the possibility of implementing a merit pay program for county employees.

To do that, the county must adopt a comprehensive salary grade system that matches pay with the level of responsibilities and requisite training among different occupations, panel members said. All Bradley County departments thus far have been relatively free to develop their pay and benefits programs, creating a fragmented system.

The compensation committee, formed in May, already has achieved a few of its stated benchmarks, panel officials said. They said they had received commitments of cooperation from nearly every county department.

Committee members have said they will need accurate salary data and detailed job descriptions of all county occupations to perform a good evaluation of how workers measure up to one another.

"We're here to help improve things for everybody," said Mark Hall, vice chairman of the Bradley County Commission, in a previous meeting. To do that, he said, requires 100 percent cooperation.

One of the next steps will be to collect job classification data from other counties, said Renee Samples, human resources director for Bradley County. The director praised Rutherford County as a good model of a uniform and accessible job classification system.

Samples said that once she gathers all the necessary data, it will be necessary to determine the best way to implement the study. She said the panel has three alternatives for the study: perform an internal audit, pay for an external audit or buy compensation study software.

Samples said the software would require less time and labor than an internal audit, which has the potential to be biased. An external audit would be an impartial method but could require a repetitive study if and when the county decided to implement a uniform merit pay program, she said.

The compensation panel meets Monday at 6 p.m. at the Bradley County Courthouse.