Finance discusses staff compensation
New London proposes in-house study
By Robert Cloud
The Finance and Personnel Committee discussed city employee compensation when it met April 6.
The committee also agreed that the city should forego hiring an outside firm to conduct a comparative salary and wages study and instead do its own study.
“We all know the market today and how important this is,” City Administrator Chad Hoerth told the committee.
Hoerth noted that New London has hired consultants to conduct the compensation studies three times in five-year increments since 2008.
He said the 2008 study found that 13 of 19 key city positions were paid below or significantly below similar positions in other Wisconsin cities.
The city spent from $10,000 to $16,000 on each of the studies, but took little action in response because New London could not afford to increase wages to the levels recommended by the studies.
“We can’t be an Appleton. We can’t pay those kinds of wages if we want to have any road construction,” Finance Director Judy Radke said. “We have to be cognizant that we’re a community of 7,000 and working class individuals.”
“This has been kicked around for several years on contracting out,” Mayor Mark Herter said. “We get the same results back and nothing ever gets done about it. Honestly, I think it’s a waste of a lot of money doing that but not moving forward.”
“Can we do something in house and come up with something that’s going to be a little more attainable?” Hoerth asked.
Hoerth recommended the committee consider other options for recruiting and retaining employees.
He said it hiring and training new employees carries significant costs, especially when certain positions require extensive training.
Pointing to the responsibilities of the finance director, the city clerk, street superintendent and building inspector, among others, Hoerth said, “We need quality employees in these positions.
“We don’t create widgets, we provide services,” Hoerth said.
Hoerth said the committee could examine alternatives to increased pay as a way to attract and retain employees.
Ald. John Faucher suggested giving employees priority when renting city facilities, such as park shelters.
Radke suggested offering incentives to staff who stay with the city for five or 10 years.
The committee will continue looking at the issue.