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West Bend Common Council takes no action on proposed employee pay raises

August 16, 2021 – West Bend, WI – After more than an hour discussion the West Bend Common Council took no action regarding a decision to move forward on a cross-the-board staff compensation plan.

After much discussion the council took no vote but indicated it would follow up on issuing a request for proposal to hire an outside consultant to conduct a salary study.

What started on the agenda as ‘Discussion and action on Implementing a Compensation Plan’ quickly turned to aldermen weighing in on a vague presentation made two weeks ago by the City Administrator and the head of Human Resources.

“I’m not denying that any of our employees do or do not deserve a raise. I think many of them do,” said District 4 alderman Randy Koehler. “But why was council never approached. Why would we do a study like this in house with that data I can’t make heads or tails of.”

Koehler said there was no data on an employee’s compensation package, wages, tenure, experience, insurance costs, vacation.. all the details that would go into a full compensation study.  “All I’ve got here is strictly wages,” he said. “We’ve had turnover. Why have we had turnover… is it strictly wages? Is it management, culture, or people transferring closer to home? We don’t have any of that… it’s strictly wages.”

Koehler said, “In good faith without having a complete study there’s no way I can support this.”

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District 8 alderwoman Meghann Kennedy echoed Koehler’s concerns citing a lack of hard data on an internal study. “I reviewed a lot of this and I do data analysis for a living and I really do not have a good understanding of the data and the numbers behind this. It was really difficult to comprehend … The suggestions may be 100% right but nobody in this room is a compensation expert, like we’d get if we went to an RFP and added some council members to committee,” she said.

The data presented by city administrator Jay Shambeau (2020 salary $143,500 – still waiting on 2021 salary) and Human Resources director Michelle Hoey indicated all City staff was in good standing and an across-the-board pay raise was needed to bring compensation in line with other communities of similar size and help reduce turnover.

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District 8 alderman Justice Madl praised the staff for completing the study inhouse. “I do trust the numbers,” he said.

The compensation study completed by Shambeau and Hoey showed 100 employees deserved pay increases. Data provided by the City showed Hoey, who started with the City in March 2017 at a salary of $80,000 received an increase to $85,312 by 2020.

According to the compensation study Hoey was in line to receive more than a $14,500 increase to a recommended salary of $99,840.  Data showed Hoey would receive the second highest pay bump in the compensation study which she completed.

Click HERE for a list of current salaries and proposed wage increases

While the compensation study was designed to help curb turnover there were 10 raises over $10,000 a year that went to nine department heads.

There were four raises between $7,500 and $9,900.

Twenty-four raises were between $5,000 and $7,499.

Thirty-five percent of employees received at least a $5,000 a year increase.

Nine employees out of 109 saw no increase and the overall average increase was $4,519.

District 5 alderman Jed Dolnick said, “I can’t believe if there was a compensation study that came back it would be welcomed with open arms.”

Dolnick said Washington County government was in the same situation as the City regarding compensation. “The County did the right thing. They could not retain and attract new employees and they discovered they were really behind the eight ball and we’re in the same situation,” he said. “I understand wanting an outside firm but I’m pessimistic it would make a difference to some of you.”

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Discussion also included possibly placing $450,000 in a separate account in the next budget so once the salary study is complete the earmarked money would be available should the council move forward with the consultant’s recommendation on possible pay increases.

No action was taken on any item discussed regarding compensation during Monday’s meeting.

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