Lewis tables salary step plan

New Lewis County Human Resources Department Director Caitlyn K. Smith, right, will have to wait until the committee meetings on Friday to continue discussion with the Board of Legislators about “step program” for merit-based salary increases for non-union managers on the county payroll proposed by her predecessor.

LOWVILLE — A resolution to approve the “step system” proposed by former Lewis County Human Resources Director Christopher Boulio as his last act before retirement was tabled in this month’s Lewis County Board of Legislators meeting without any discussion.

“I would like to table this until we can go over some things,” said District 4 Legislator Bryan Moser. “I don’t think we should approve this or any type of salary increase until we can come up with a definite procedure how we’re going to do evaluations. I think they go hand in hand.”

Although the resolution was officially tabled immediately after Mr. Moser’s comment, County Manager Ryan Piche asked for guidance from the legislators about what kind of information they need for further discussions.

Mr. Moser said that the proposed “salary schedule seems fine” but he believes the legislators should be discussing who will be performing evaluations and how to ensure a concrete process.

“In the last two years we’ve added some uniformity to our evaluation process where every employee in the county is evaluated at the same time in the same month, so everyone is done in October, on the same form,” Mr. Piche said. “That’s different from in the past where everyone was done on their anniversary [of being hired] and everyone was done by their departments.”

He said self-evaluations were performed the year prior to these changes but in the performance evaluation structure now in place, department heads evaluate their managers and the county manager assesses the 24 department heads reporting to him.

The proposed “step system” would allow people to earn raises beyond standard cost of living increases, alleviating the problem that earnings by union staff members have been outpacing their non-union managers and those non-union managers having no way to move up in their pay range.

The proposed system is based on the 10-step system used by St. Lawrence County, calling for an equal number of steps to be created on either side of the midpoint in each salary range. Management employees will be placed on the closest step to their salary and can climb the steps until they reach the maximum salary in their range.

Because all increases will be based on merit, Mr. Boulio said not all participating employees will make it to their maximum salary.

The salary increases through the step system would likely be self-funded by the replacement of long-term employees with higher salaries as they retire with new, usually less-experienced people at lower salaries.

The step system is expected to be on the agenda at the Aug. 20 legislative committee meeting.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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