MEDIA — Delaware County Council unanimously approved hiring McGrath Human Resources Group for $102,452 to perform a compensation study of county and court employees with a goal to begin implementing parts of that study by the end of 2020.
This process emanated from a request by county Sheriff Jerry L. Sanders Jr. who, in October 2018, asked council to increase his deputies' wages by at least $5 an hour because of serious issues of retention and recruitment. At the time, his request was postponed as council indicated it wanted to analyze all of the county employees' wages. In September, council did increase sheriff's deputies and Medical Examiner investigator salaries by $2.18 an hour and Park Police by $2.12 an hour.
County Executive Director Marianne Grace said that after a request for proposals was sent out regarding a compensation study, 10 proposals were received, eight telephone interviews were conducted and five face-to-face interviewed were completed.
Grace outlined the issues facing the county.
"It’s widely known … that our starting salaries are the lowest in the region and this is something that county council has mentioned frequently," she said. "So council then made the decision they wanted to address this and issue an RFP."
County Councilman Kevin Madden agreed.
"We talked about this for a while, the struggles we have in terms of making sure that we’re compensating folks sufficiently to retain and attract new talent," he said after thanking Grace and her committee for their work on the matter.
Grace explained that the committee comprised of both county and court personnel unanimously chose McGrath to perform this evaluation.
"McGrath is from Illinois (and) they have considerable experience working with government entities such as ours," she added.
The study will look beyond wages.
“The complete compensation package will be looked at," Grace said. "It will be salaries and benefits and ensuring that … within the constraints that we have, that we will be able to be as competitive as possible. We may not have the starting salaries of other counties, but that we can be as competitive as possible so that we can attract and retain qualified employees.”
Grace said conversations have started with Victoria McGrath to develop a schedule of meeting with department heads. In February, face-to-face meetings with county officials are expected to begin.
Part of McGrath's process will include disseminating a questionnaire to county employees to gain various information, such as details about the work that they do. The initial study is anticipated to take eight months with implementation beginning at the end of next year but taking anywhere from two to three years.
"I don’t necessarily expect that we’re going to fully be able to implement all of the recommendations so I'm asking for an implementation plan and then looking at potentially the last quarter of 2020, that the council would be able to begin implementing that," Grace explained.
In October, when Grace approached council to begin negotiating with McGrath, Councilman Brian Zidek talked about the intent of the evaluation.
"I think that any enterprise, whether it's a public enterprise or private enterprise, is only as good as the people who work for and with it," he said. "And it's incumbent upon us if we want to make Delaware County the best county it can be to have our workforce be the best county workforce that it can be that we are providing a competitive compensation structure that allows us to attract and retain the best employees."