WM Utility wants to keep quality workers with city

WM Utility wants to keep quality workers with city

Officials hope to use wage analysis, clearer job descriptions to foster employee



West Memphis Utility Commissioners authorized the final phase of a much anticipated compensation analysis for the city utility company workers. Commissioners voted to hire a consultant to a conduct comparative pay and benefits benchmark survey of municipal utility employees in the region. The study follows another consultant’s work to write accurate job descriptions for each position in a standard format compliant to the Fair Labor Standards Act.

Utilities workers had addressed concerns to commissioners about expanding job responsibilities and commensurate pay. Employee representatives asked the board to bring pay up for the bigger work loads. With the job-by-job definitions about done the commissioners looked for help getting wage, salary and benefit recommendations ready. The commission tapped retired Paragould Utilities CFO Rhonda Davis to survey other municipal utilities in Arkansas and Southern Missouri to compile position-by-position pay and benefit package values and compare the ranges to the updated job descriptions at the WMU. This last study leads right up to a long awaited ending for utility employees, new pay recommendations.

Utility General Manager Todd Pedersen delivered a status report to commissioners during the July meeting.

“We are in the final phases of getting the job descriptions done,” said Pedersen.

“We have them back from consultants and our department heads are reviewing them. Any changes will be finalized with H.R. by July 31. That will bring them all up to date and compliant with Fair Labor Standards.

It’s then ready for a salary survey.”

The final study phase was set to begin in August.

Pedersen recommended Davis because the Paragould utility undertakes wage analysis every other year. Pedersen hoped Davis’ regular experience with the process and standing in Arkansas public utilities could increase survey returns and provide for a smooth presentation of salary ranges. The West Memphis utility had never undertaken suanalysis.

“We will take our job descriptions, do a poll of the other utilities, and see how we compare,” said Pedersen. “We can get a benchmark to compare.”

A salary equivalent comparison, considering benefits coupled with pay, will form the basis for the comparison.

Commissioner Jerry Burns expressed optimism.

“Our employee retention rates should go up when our employees know they are earning competitive pay and benefits,” said Burns.

“This is going to be good.”

By John Rech