The compensation study recently obtained by Greenwood County is still a source of contention among Greenwood County Council and has been put aside until more modifications are made.
Members of council have not been pleased with the study since it was first presented in April. When first presented, council members took exception to comparing Greenwood County to much larger areas, such as City of Greenville and Lexington County, which have larger tax bases and much larger budgets. David Lookingbill of Management Advisory Group told council that the various municipalities and other public bodies were included as peers and competitors because Greenwood County had lost employees to those places.
“I have a little bit of a problem using some of those as peers as competitors,” councilman Steve Brown said during the April 15 administration and finance committee meeting where the study was first presented. “I’m all for paying our people fairly, but it has to be based on god, credible information. I question the credibility when you compare us to places like the City of Greenville, Spartanburg County and Lexington County. To say we compete with those entities I think is a far stretch and I think it skews the numbers.”
Council agreed with Brown’s assessment of the study and asked for the parameters of the study to be revised and those results presented at a later date. The revision was presented during a budget workshop last week that ended with Lookingbill joining the conversation via telephone to answer questions about the revised study.
During the budget workshop last Wednesday, Brown again questioned some of the numbers in the study. During a discussion of EMS salaries, Brown asked about the disparity in salaries between Orangeburg and Greenwood. According to the study, EMS technicians made about $40,000 to start while in Greenwood that number was about $19,000. Director of emergency services Derek Kinney said none of the EMS technicians in Greenwood County make $19,000; the lowest paid employee in that department makes around $26,000. Lookingbill, via telephone, said he was unsure how Orangeburg arrived at that salary for an EMS technician or whether or not that number included mandatory overtime the employee might work during the year.
During the April 15 meeting, Lookingbill said the study needed to be supported by data form other actual municipalities.
“We want this to be real,” Lookingbill told council. “We don’t want to just pluck stuff out of the air. We want it to be real or it has no value to you.”
Brown noted that the revised study said Greenwood County paid the Clerk of Court $100,000 annually, which is nearly double the actual salary. When asked about where the number came from, Lookingbill said he just plugged the number in because he did not know what the Clerk of Court actually made. A lengthy discussion ensued over the validity of the study until three council members left at the meeting elected to move on to another topic.
The compensation study was again brought up at last Tuesday’s administration and finance committee meeting as county staff attempted to tie the last few loose ends concerning the fiscal year 2015 budget. Council again agreed they did not feel the numbers provided in the study were appropriate to the situation in Greenwood County, particularly since some of the salaries the study attributes to employees of Greenwood County are not accurate.
Council agreed to not make a decision on the study until after the budget is passed and address it with a budget amendment, if necessary. All members of council felt that to be the best course of action until the inaccuracies in the study could be corrected. Those inaccuracies, Brown pointed out, would have an effect on every county employee.
“If the numbers are inaccurate on employees who the study says need to paid more, then are they inaccurate for the employees the study says are being paid appropriately?” Brown asked. “This affects every employee of Greenwood County, not just those the study says need a pay raise.”