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Personnel Director Michael Taylor brought the petition to the City Council's Ordinance and Rules Committee on Monday.

Pittsfield Considering Changes to Management Pay Scale

By Andy McKeeveriBerkshires Staff
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PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The Personnel Department wants to switch up how salary increases are done for managers and non-union personnel. 
Personnel Director Michael Taylor is pitching a move away from the step system currently in place to an open range. He believes the open-range model will provide more flexibility in determining raises for workers.
"It is designed really to provide greater flexibility with pay. It works very well with a pay-for-performance system. The other flexible piece is with recruitment and the appointment process. It gives us a little bit more leverage in terms of negotiating," he said. 
The step system outlines a number of 2.5 percent pay increase levels that employees could move to at the discretion of the administration. Instead, Taylor would like to tie increases to performance reviews. For example, should an employee score a three on the performance review, that would equate to a 1.25 percent increases. At the same time, others could receive a five and that would result in as much as a 3 percent increase. 
Taylor said that will help address workers who may have been there for a year, have done good work, but the review may not warrant a full step increase. This would at least give those employees something.
He added that it would take longer for an employee to work through the ranges than the current step system. He said there are only a certain number of steps and might not take too long to get to the maximum. 
"It gives a lot more room for growth. People won't grow out of the pay scale," he said. 
The City Council's Ordinance and Rules Committee voted in favor by a 3-2 vote of making such a change with Councilor at Large Melissa Mazzeo and Ward 5 Councilor Donna Todd Rivers voting instead to table the conversation until a later date. 
Mazzeo said she wouldn't support changing the step system because it wasn't that long ago when the city revamped its management and non-union scale. 
"We were really listening to the councilors, the people, the public. It was a big, hefty jump at the time," Mazzeo said. 
It was 2012 when the city spent $46,975 to bring in Stone Consultants to do a review of the scale. Of particular note, Stone found that the scale had not been updated in years and the pay for jobs trailed significantly from other areas.
The City Council passed a proposal that significantly hiked the pay scales in order to remain competitive in hiring and retaining employees. But, that was the extent of changes to the system. Mazzeo suggested the other councilors review that report to understand why the decisions were made before voting on making such a switch.
"It is a significant change," Mazzeo said. 
Taylor said the consultants also called for an open-range system as well as for regularly adjusting the cost of living to the scale so the city doesn't trail behind the going rates again. 
Taylor is also asking for an ordinance change linking the cost-of-living raises -- which are linked the entire pay scale and not an individual employee -- to the Consumer Price Index. Taylor said that would still require City Council approval to be effective but adding a specific index standardizes the determination for such an increase. He had also come before the City Council in the past asking to update the pay scales to account for inflation.
He said the move to open scale is just another implementation of the consultant's report and is in line with what the majority of communities in Massachusetts are doing.
"I had a big issue with the fact that the city did hire a consultant, did pay $47,000 to have it completed, and then chose to piecemeal the study and pick and choose what they wanted to adopt," Taylor said. 
"If you are going to hire a consultant, you are hiring them as a certified expert to do a job. So they did that and yet, I've been back here in front of you with various changes basically implementing the study as a whole."
Mazzeo disagreed, saying the city took the consultant's recommendations and adapted the plan for the city of Pittsfield. She said the city couldn't afford to commit to such things as the cost-of-living raises every year nor raises every year. 
"We worked hard at trying to take their recommendations and apply it to what Pittsfield could afford and what we could do. We want to value our employees, we wanted to try to pay them what they're worth -- if you still look at these pays they are not comparable to other areas in the commonwealth but we can only do so much," she said. 
Nonetheless, Mazzeo was outvoted. Taylor said he'd like to make the shift by July 1, the start of the fiscal year. He said performance reviews are currently being done and he'd like to use the system for pay increases this year, and therefore would need to have everything in place to use it for budgeting purposes.

Tags: compensation & classification,   cost of living,   wages,   

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