MANSFIELD -- Richland County commissioners hope to have results in about 12 weeks from a Dublin firm launching the first phase of a comprehensive wage study for all county employees.
Commissioners discussed the new study on Thursday with representatives from Clemans-Nelson & Associates, which was awarded a contract not to exceed $32,900 to conduct it.
The project will start with 10 departments, representing 51 employees, that report directly to commissioners. Among these workers include their own staff members, Building Codes, Child Support Enforcement Agency, Dayspring, Dog Warden's Office, Emergency Management Agency, Human Resources, Job & Family Services, Maintenance and Wastewater Treatment.
"We wanted the commissioners' office to go first," Commissioner Tony Vero said. "We can't ask other offices to follow suit if we don't do the same. After our group is done, we'll move on to other general fund elected offices, starting with clerks.
"We're excited about this. It's been a long time coming," Vero said.
Clerk of Courts Linda Frary is funding the wage study "because she is very interested," Vero said. "So there is no general fund money being spent on the wage study."
Vero said Frary is paying for the work through her auto title department because she feels her staff there is underpaid. He said her department is next in line for the study once the initial phase is done.
When commissioners discussed the wage survey in May, a project they said could take a few years to complete across all county agencies, they said it's not aimed at restricting or reducing wages. Instead, the goal is to identify differences between agencies and to make the county more competitive in terms of salary in hopes of better retaining talented employees.
Five firms interested in doing the study submitted proposals to commissioners. Two of the proposals came from Columbus-area firms and others from Maryland, Florida and Washington. D.C.
Andrew Esposito, an account manager and attorney for Clemans-Nelson, said the first step in the process is employees completing analysis questionnaires that will detail the duties each performs.
The firm will also review internal county documents aimed at gleaning additional wage and job requirement information.
The third step is surveying adjoining counties and a few other counties with similar demographics, such as Wayne and Allen, to obtain wage information.
The firm will then begin developing a points system to determine the overall grade of each position and accompanying wage scale.
According to the firm's website, "Today’s labor market dictates that wages and benefits be competitive enough to attract and retain qualified employees, while allowing your organization to remain fiscally responsible.
"A well-designed and executed wage and benefit survey is a good first step toward attaining balance between the needs of your staff and the needs of your organization."
In other activity Tuesday, commissioners:
-- Learned it may pay about $100,000 less (about 1.2 percent) in 2020 for county employee health insurance premiums.The county is part of the 36-county County Employee Benefits Consortium of Ohio (CEBCO). Commissioner Marilyn John, a member of the CEBCO board, will meet with county Human Resources Director Kelly Cicolani to begin the effort of determining what changes need to be made to the employees' portion of the insurance premiums.
-- approved the advertising of a new office manager position at Dayspring and also approved 2 to 3 percent pay increases for some county home employees.
-- met with Dog Warden Dane Howard, who requested some painting and other physical improvements at the shelter. Howard also reported the county's new mandatory spay-and-neuter program is off to a good start.