On April 22, the commissioners voted 5-0 to hire the Rock Hill, S.C.-based Archer Company to perform a salary study, which will also include recommendations for pay adjustments. Tony Hagler, director of human resources for the county, said the county chose to hire an outside consultant because his staff would not be able to carry out a study of this size.
“It’s a huge project,” Hagler said. “We wouldn’t have the staffing to accommodate doing that kind of review.”
Meanwhile, the county’s compensation committee — formed by commissioners in 2012 — was looking at how to assess the satisfaction of the county workforce, and while doing so, it sought proposals from several organizations, according to county spokesman Robert Quigley.
“And we have been looking at and talking to other companies about doing such a study that would … basically (survey) the employees on workforce satisfaction and then (come) back with recommendations from the results of that study,” Hagler said.
When finalizing the agreement with the Archer Company, county staff discovered the company could also provide the workplace satisfaction study.
Tonight’s vote would amend the contract with the Archer Company to provide the satisfaction study in addition to the already contracted salary study.
Hagler did not know when the satisfaction study might be completed, but he said it would start in the early fall and “hopefully” finish within a few months.
The salary study will begin during the same time frame, he added, but will take about 18 months because of the scope of the study.
“It’s more than just doing a survey of salaries. … Part of the study is a market study,” he said. “But it’s also evaluating every job in the county and their job responsibilities and their essential functions and making sure jobs are appropriately classified and meet regulations.”
County Chairman Tim Lee said the study will likely suggest changes to several county job responsibilities.
“I think in the technology field and some of those areas, (jobs) might change significantly. So I anticipate it to be pretty comprehensive and to include a lot of recommendations.”
Because of their scope, the recommendations will most likely take several years to implement, Lee added.
Byrne, Weatherford: Start with police
Bill Byrne and Bob Weatherford, Republican candidates seeking to replace retiring Commissioner Helen Goreham, said they would have conducted a salary study solely with the county’s police department, rather than conduct a study of all county employees.
“First thing I would do — and I don’t think you need a big study to do this — you make ten phone calls … to personnel directors of the nine counties and the city of Atlanta to find out what is the starting pay for a police officer. That doesn’t take a whole lot of time,” Byrne said. “Once you know what the highest one is, make sure Cobb County is higher.”
Weatherford had a similar thought.
“What we did in Acworth was any time we wanted to do (a study), as far as police, we just called surrounding agencies that had the same approximate number of employees that we had and ask them (about their salaries). You can probably do that in a week,” he said.
The Republican candidates, who face off in today’s runoff election, had differing thoughts regarding the satisfaction study, however.
Weatherford, a former Acworth alderman, was in favor of the idea, saying he thinks the study might open some eyes.
“I would say that satisfaction study is good because it allows you to know how the employees feel … because sometimes there’s more than just pay involved,” he said. “I know for a fact that some of the policemen (that) have left have actually gone for less money but got better benefits.”
Byrne took the opposite position.
“To spend $64,000 … to find out if everybody’s happy makes me very unhappy,” he said.
The former chairman of the Board of Commissioners said spending money on these studies sends a bad message to those who work and live in Cobb County.
“I don’t see the need for a study when the facts are very apparent. It just shows to me, not only do the five — and I’m not pointing a finger at any one person here — but if the five people on the Board of Commissioners don’t know if the county employees are happy, then they clearly don’t have the understanding as to what the priorities of government are.”