A number of positions in Flagler are paid so much less than their peers elsewhere that the gap could entice Flagler's employees to leave, a consultant said.
Many Flagler County government employees are significantly underpaid relative to their peers in other comparable counties and cities in Florida, a salary survey commissioned by the Flagler County government revealed.
The study looked at cost-of-living-adjusted take-home pay for 53 representative positions in Flagler County and in another 18 cities and counties in the state of Florida, and it determined that 14 of those positions in Flagler County pay 15% less than the average cost-of-living-adjusted take-home pay in the other 18 jurisdictions.
"Fifteen is the beginning of the threshold in which we find that it can influence behavior, meaning I start to think about: I will apply for another job, I will seek other employment, I’ll put up with a little bit longer drive on I-95 or I-4 to get to another jurisdiction for work, because the gap is big enough," said Jeff Ling, executive vice president of the consulting firm Evergreen Solutions, which the county hired to conduct the study. "As you move from 15% down to zero with that differential, we find that the probability of that person seeking other employment or dealing with all of the change that goes along with seeking employment, is a little bit less likely."
On average, Ling said, the county falls behind its peers at the range minimum, midpoint and maximum salary ranges, but the gap most significantly impacts positions in the trades, fire and rescue, and other support classifications.
"On average, if I come to work for Flagler County, I start off on average lower than what I would in one of your peers; over the course of my career if I reach midpoint, I would on average be lower than where I would be in one of the peers as well, or most of the peers; and if I reach maximum over the course of that career, I would on average fall behind where I would be in one of those other jurisdictions," Ling said.
Ling recommended that the county adopt a step-based compensation plan with 2% increases between steps and adjust the starting pay for each pay grade to account for the market gap, including by bumping the county's lowest-paid employees from $9.72 to $12 an hour, adjusting the pay grade assignments of all 82 job classifications and then transitioning employee salaries onto the new step plan.
A 3% increase is already planned for the coming year's budget, and other salary adjustments are planned for the following two years, said Joe Mayer, the county's Community Services director.