To ensure the retention of employees within Albemarle’s electrical division, the city council last week approved an hourly increase for these workers to bring their pay closer to standard market pay.
Tier 1 workers will now get $21.43 per hour (was $19.96), Tier 2 workers will get $24.50 (was $21.95), Tier 3 workers will receive $29 (instead of $24.81) and team leaders will receive $32.80 (instead of $28.55).
In a presentation to the board arguing for the recommended action, Albemarle Human Resources Director Dana Chaney and Utilities Director Dan Worl explained that the new hourly wage amounts were chosen after reviewing various factors, including the amount similarly sized municipalities were paying their electricians.
The total impact on the current year budget is approximately $47,000, which includes overtime, payroll taxes and retirement.
Workers in the electrical division are included as part of the first year of a rotating market study, aimed at financially strengthening areas of the city with the greatest turnover, according to the presentation. The plan for year two is to focus on frontline operations (fire department, social housing, parks and recreation) while year three would focus on support teams in more administrative roles.
The increased pay for electricians will hopefully keep them in Albemarle and deter them from going to work in the private sector or in surrounding towns, such as Monroe, according to the presentation.
Over the past 12 months, the city has lost a team leader and two Level I and Level II workers, which equates to a turnover rate of approximately 28%. Currently, five employees have active job offers and if they left, the turnover rate would increase to approximately 56%. Over the next six years, according to the presentation, there will be seven senior employees eligible for retirement with few people to replace them.
The city contracts a Lee Electrical crew from Aberdeen, but after losing so many workers in the past year, a minimum of two more Lee crews will need to be hired at $650,000 a year to continue providing services relevant to the community.
The majority of the Lee Electrical team live at least an hour away, according to Worl, so if a storm or accident causes major outages, it often takes longer for crews to restore power.
Chaney told council that over the past few years, largely during the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been an increase in turnover among city staff as a whole, including police and firefighters. . It’s part of a larger movement – the so-called Great Quit – where workers across the country have changed jobs and careers.
“What we’re seeing with recruiting is it’s so difficult right now, I have people taking offers and then before their first day they cancel because they’re getting something else,” Chaney said.
Board members debated filing a decision until they could properly digest all the data that had been presented.
“I just think it’s a lot for us to decide tonight,” Councilwoman Martha Hughes said. “If we’re voting tonight without giving it serious thought, and I’m not saying yes or no, I’m saying let’s stop, take a second, review, read, digest. That’s all I ask.
Several council members, including Hughes, raised the point that other workers in the city would probably not be very happy to know that their 19 colleagues in the electrical division received a raise and that they did not. made.
After much back and forth, the board approved a motion supporting specific pay increases for electricians.
At the request of Mayor Pro Tem Martha Sue Hall, the council also approved, as part of the motion, another lower cost option for health insurance to be included in the next budget as well as a new health and wellness program. well-being.
“I know we have people working for us in every department who have to choose whether they’re going to have insurance for their family or whether they’re going to have something else,” Hall said. “We have to do something about it.”
In other subjects, the council:
- Approved two map changes. The first would rezone a vacant 0.32 acre parcel on Belmont Circle from light industrial to residential office district to build a new single family home and the second would rezone 6.59 acres at the intersection of Russell Road and US Highway 52 north from the general residential area and the general highway business district to the only general highway business district.
- Appointed Joey Gathings to Seat No. 2 of the Planning and Zoning Board and Marcus Owens to the first alternate position. Also appointed Julia Curtis and Micah Shaprio to serve as alternate members.
- Heard a brief update from Fire Chief T. Pierre Brewton that the department recently received $27,997 from The Cannon Foundation for the purchase of a whitewater rescue boat.