(Host) At a time when cities and towns across the country are looking more closely at their finances, Vermont’s smallest city is studying how its employees’ wages compare to other communities. As VPR’s Kirk Carapezza reports, the goal is to stay competitive.
(Carapezza) The wage study will evaluate the city workforce over the next year. It’ll match-up positions in similar sized towns in Vermont.
Peter Garon is one of the aldermen in the City of Vergennes who will oversee the wage study. He says the idea is to determine where the city stands.
(Garon) "We want to make sure that we’re paying a wage that is competitive so that we can – when we need to – replace people; so that we can command good employees like the ones we have."
To attract those employees, Garon says the city wants to first determine how wages are set.
(Garon) "As we were working on the budget, questions came up about an increase in wages: How do we compare with other people around us in our wages and our benefit structure?"
(Carapezza) Sandy Miller is the city manager in South Burlington. He also sits on the board of the Vermont League of Cities and Towns. He says making wage information transparent is crucial to running a more efficient government.
(Miller) "Everybody is looking at what everybody else has and gives out. Every year people are negotiating collective bargaining agreements; the economy changes; people may give a wage increase one year and a smaller increase the next year. So there’s constant need to update that information."
(Carapezza) In its study, Vergennes will look at all of its 14 non-union employees, from the city manager to the Department of Public Works. Their annual salaries range from $30,000 to $70,000.
Alderman Peter Garon says Vergennes, with a population of about 2,500, is similar to most other towns in the state.
(Garon) "We should have the ability to do some fairly direct comparisons."
(Carapezza) In this summer of government spending cuts, Garon says a primary goal of the wage study will be to find out whether Vergennes is being too generous – or not generous enough.
For VPR News, I’m Kirk Carapezza.
Has your community conducted a wage study of its employees? How does it compare to similar sized cities and towns? Let us know in the comments section below.