It has been 18 years and 121 days since the city’s pledge to build the West Branch Library.

Chavira volunteer

Chavira volunteer’s vehicle

Before we delve into the classification and compensation study, I just had to share this. A voter who had signed my nominating petition emailed me with this photo. To say the voter was perturbed would be an understatement. The voter observed a woman parking her vehicle. See it parked on the sidewalk? It turns out that the vehicle belonged to a young woman who was trying to obtain petition signatures for Sammy Chavira and Mark Burdick in a neighborhood I had already canvassed.  Apparently she did not know the law or chose to ignore the law. No matter. It seems to be the perfect symbol of the opposition who apparently think that laws are not meant to be obeyed. Talk about making a positive PR statement for your candidate…not!

On April 12, 2016 the third agenda item was an employee classification and compensation study performed by the consultant, Segal Waters. The presenters were Jim Brown, Human Resources Director and Andrew Knutson of Segal Waters. I cannot provide an easy link to the study because the file is too large and this blog site cannot accommodate it. However you can always go to, then click on the City Clerk link on the left side of the page. Once you get there at the top there is a link to Council Minutes and Agendas. Click on that and a page of dates will appear. Scroll down to 4/12/16, city council workshop. Then click on the Agenda for that meeting. The third item on the agenda is the study.

For this study Segal Waters used 11 Valley cities with Chandler and Gilbert being closest in population and the number of employees to Glendale. The consultant also used 3 private sector studies in arriving at its conclusions. The study focused on non-represented employees, those employees that are not primarily in the police and fire departments.

Mr. Brown began by stating that the city has no Compensation Philosophy. He did not indicate which of the cities used in the study had such a philosophy. Mr. Brown recommended that council adopt such a philosophy. If it contains specific annual increases to be met I would be reluctant to adopt it.

In the study’s Executive Summary it states, “Based on overall market data including custom survey peer employers and published data representative of the private sector, the City of Glendale’s pay structure is consistent with the market average at the minimum and midpoint, but falls below the custom survey and overall market average at the pay range maximum, as shown below.

“We define market competitiveness as being between 95% and 105% of the market average at the minimum, midpoint, and maximum. Market comparisons that fall within this competitive corridor are noted in black, below 95% are noted in red, and above 105% are notes in blue.”

In plain English, the study recommends giving employees who are at the maximum range of their pay scale an increase. In other words those non-represented employees who are at the top of their pay range should get more money. By the way, there are indeed employees who fall in the 105% category.

If this classification and compensation study is accepted in full it will affect 400 of the city’s 1,000 plus non-represented employees at a total cost of $3.1 million dollars initially. The study did not reflect the annual increase to the General Fund should this study be implemented.

The justification used to support the results were the turnover rates of non-represented employees:

  • In Fiscal Year 2013 the turnover rate was 20.2% or 182 employees
  • In Fiscal Year 2014 the turnover rate was 18.8% or 186 employees
  • In Fiscal Year 2015 the turnover rate was 14.5% or 158 employees

One question unasked by councilmembers was how did Glendale’s turnover rate during these Fiscal Years compare to other Valley cities? The justification for the study’s recommendation seemed to rely upon an implication staff made that the turnover rate was due to employees taking higher paying positions with other Valley cities. However, people leave their jobs for all kinds of reasons. How many of these employees simply retired? How many became ill and could no longer work? What about those employees who left their jobs only to be reemployed by the city as contract employees? That happens all the time. Employees leave their jobs for all kinds of reasons, not exclusively to take another municipal job at higher pay.

Councilmember Turner asked Mr. Brown if the city conducted employee exit interviews. Mr. Brown said that the city does. When asked for data about those interviews Mr. Brown had nothing to offer.

Councilmember Turner also asked a question about whether all departments were right-sized. Again, Mr. Brown, Director of Human Resources, could provide no information and punted to the individual departments for reliance as to whether each is right sized. Why has Human Resources never recommended a study to verify the right-sizing of all city departments? Why is staff so reluctant to accept the concept of zero-based budgeting, a mechanism that would produce an answer as to whether departments are right-sized?

It is understandable that Mr. Brown as Human Resources Director and Mr. Phelps as City Manager would urge the council to accept this study. That is part of their advocacy – to represent the employees and seek to gain pay raises for them.

Council has the right to have its questions answered in full. Until that occurs it should not be so hasty to accept the study’s recommendation.

© Joyce Clark, 2016


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