Categories: Local News

New philosophy for city hall pay

City council has a new policy that outlines the city’s philosophy on compensating its non-unionized employees.

The policy is an overarching document that states the city aims to attract a high quality workforce, retain high-performing staff and reinforce a performance-driven and team-focused work culture. It also outlines measures to recognize employees who exceed performance expectations, through “accelerated” salary increases and recognition awards.

The policy largely puts current practices into print. An interesting gap in the city’s governance is that its compensation policy currently exists only at the administration level and not at the council level, said city manager Bill Holtby.

“I believe this is a good step from a governance perspective, for city council to set a policy [that’s] overarching compensation for employees of the corporation,” Holtby said.

Perceived flaws

Council passed the new policy in a 4-3 vote Monday after debating several perceived flaws.

Mayor Nolan Crouse didn’t like that the plan only mentions non-unionized employees when about 40 per cent of city staff are unionized.

“This continues to reinforce that we don’t have a compensation philosophy for half of our employees so I’m going to vote against it,” Crouse said.

Holtby pointed out the city has little control over compensation of unionized employees other than bargaining in good faith when contracts come up for negotiation.

Another weakness that Crouse identified was that the policy only contains measures to address high-performing employees but doesn’t address the possibility of under-performance.

More work needed

The issue of staff compensation has been in and out of council since last fall when a consultant’s report, known as the Hay Report, found the city pays higher than its 60th percentile target for a number of sample positions. Council charged Holtby with addressing the report’s recommendations along with a separate list of council directives.

Now that the overarching philosophy is in place, the next step is to form a detailed council policy that defines which municipalities to include in a comparison group and sets criteria for the awarding of annual salary increases.

It will take until August to assemble a comparator group for council’s approval and then run comparisons to see how St. Albert’s pay levels rank, Holtby said.

Coun. Cam MacKay questioned why the city is still doing comparisons and reviews when the Hay Report came out three months ago with a list of straightforward recommendations.

“The reasons for the time delays is it’s a fairly exhaustive process,” Holtby said.

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