Can you provide some analysis regarding compensation and classification information?

FY 2017 Budget Question: Can you provide some analysis regarding compensation and classification information?

Page updated on Jun 16, 2017 at 11:50 AM

Responses to questions from various City Council members regarding compensation and classification information are listed below. 

QUESTION:

Why were our current comparator jurisdictions selected and should they change? What is our Compensation Philosophy?

ANSWER:

As outlined in the  FY 2009 Approved Budget (page 22-3), the City's compensation philosophy, including policies, practices and the definition of the City's comparative labor market (including the five named jurisdictions indicated below), was approved by City Council on May 27, 1997. While there is no recent documentation that provides the details of why these comparators were chosen, comparators are typically selected based on their proximity to an organization, the makeup of an organization and competition in the labor market; Alexandria’s current comparators were likely chosen based on these factors. Loudoun County may have been excluded as a comparator in the past because it was less urbanized, had fewer employees, and drew much of its workforce from lower cost of living areas, such as West Virginia, and therefore would not have been an appropriate comparator for the City at that time.

Based on the current Council-adopted compensation policy, our comparator jurisdictions have included:

  • Arlington County

  • Fairfax County

  • Prince William County

  • Prince George’s County

  • Montgomery County

While these five are considered the City’s primary labor market, other sources including other jurisdictions locally and nationwide can be considered when information for this group does not provide sufficient information to complete a thorough market analysis. Other comparators are identified based on:

  • Similarities in size, industry, market, geography and performance levels

  • Organizations that we compete with for employees

Further research and analysis would be needed to determine the appropriateness of the City's current comparators based on the additional factors included here. This review is included in the Human Resources Departmental work plan scheduled to be completed during the fourth quarter of FY 2016.

QUESTION:

How are the differences in hours worked by Firefighters treated in the analysis? How many hours do our Firefighters work in comparison to our comparator jurisdictions?

ANSWER:

Number of hours worked by jurisdiction:

  • City of Alexandria – 2,912 hours/year (56 hours/week); professional

  • Arlington County – 2,912 hours/year (56 hours/week); professional

  • Fairfax County – 2,912 hours/year (56 hours/week); professional

  • Prince William County – 2,496 hours/year (48 hours/week); professional/volunteer

  • Loudoun County – 2,184 hours/year (42 hours/week); professional/volunteer

It should be noted that Fairfax, Arlington, and Alexandria rely on professional full time firefighters, whereas Loudoun and Prince William rely on a mix of full time professional and part time volunteer firefighter staffing.

As we consider additional comparator jurisdictions, we would also need to confirm or identify if the current and suggested comparators continue to be the best options for future analysis.

QUESTION:

How many City employees are affected by the living wage increase? What is the cost for those below the proposed living wage rate and those being moved due to compression?

ANSWER:

Employees who are proposed to receive a living wage increase to $14.13:

  • Number – 108

  • Cost – $154,900

Employees who would be impacted by a living wage increase pay compression and who would receive a pay increase of between $0.20 and $0.94 an hour:

  • Number – 61

  • Cost – $14,852

QUESTION:

How do the Fire market rate adjustment, officer reallocation and career ladder advancements interact?

ANSWER:

The 2.5% Market Rate Adjustment (MRA) recommended in the Proposed FY 2017 Budget would be applied across all pay grades, increasing the pay for all positions on the Sworn Fire pay scale by 2.5%. This would result in a fully updated pay scale. Once the pay scale has been updated, officer positions would be reallocated one step which would add 5% to their pay on top of the 2.5% base salary scale increase. Any new positions created by the Fire Department hereafter, including career path positions, would be assigned a pay grade where the 2.5% MRA has already been applied.    

QUESTION/DIRECTIVE:

Human Resources should look at the implementation of an on-site health center in the FY 2018 budget. 

ANSWER:                 

The City considers increasing employee health opportunities to be a very desirable goal from a number of perspectives – reduction in insurance cost, increase in productivity, and improvement in employee morale to name a few. Consequently, we are continually looking for viable ways to expand our employee health programs. 

Staff recently had the opportunity to speak with benefits management personnel in Arlington and Fairfax Counties to discuss on-site health centers. Arlington started a center a few years ago when they outsourced their occupational health needs, giving them a ready-made space to use. Operationally, this center:

  • Operates 4 days per week, from 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM each day,

  • Serves an average of 8 or 9 employees per day,

  • Is staffed by a Nurse Practitioner and Medical Assistant (External provider doctor reviews charts remotely), and

  • Provides services including office visits, prescriptions, lab work, shots and disease management monitoring for all employees.  

In Fairfax, there is no on-site health center for the general employee population – just an occupational health facility for all Police Officers and Firefighters. City staff have also discussed an on-site health center with our benefits consultants. They were able to provide us with a great deal of information regarding considerations for assessing the viability of a successful health center for an organization. While this option was not considered as part of the FY 2017 budget process, we will review the data we have regarding the parameters for a successful on-site health care center to determine whether this could provide a localized level of service for our employee health program.

   

ATTACHMENTS:

Attachment 1 – City of Alexandria Compensation Philosophy

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