Proposal would put $2M toward Eagle County pay raises |

Proposal would put $2M toward Eagle County pay raises

Chris Outcalt
Eagle County, CO Colorado

EAGLE COUNTY ” Eagle County, Colorado, officials are considering using $2 million from the 2008 budget to increase the salaries of 35 percent of the county government’s workforce.

Officials say market-driven wage increases have left some longtime county employees making less than recently hired staff.

“The market changes what a position is worth over time,” said County Manager Bruce Baumgartner. “Some employees were hired at the entry level and did not move and keep up with the market.”

The county identified the salary “compression” problem earlier this year and formed a group of representatives from nine departments to address the problem. The salary committee presented a plan Tuesday to the county commissioners it says will correct the problem over a two-year period.

The committee asked each department head to review employee salaries to identify problems with “compression” and search their 2008 budgets for money to address the salary discrepancies.

The departments were collectively able to find about $2 million from this year’s budgets ” the majority of which came from money slated for positions that are vacant, Baumgartner said.

The committee proposed putting the money each department identified into a separate account to be used specifically to pay for “compression”-related wage increases.

“I think it was a very strong team effort that everybody got together to make sure there was enough reallocation of funds,” Baumgartner said. “It was not an approach where everybody looked at it from their own little silo ” it was looked at comprehensively across the county.”

County Assessor Mark Chapin, who served on the salary committee, said addressing the issue could help combat the county’s high turnover rate.

“We have a turnover rate of 18 percent ” that’s pretty high,” Chapin said. “I think the most important thing is the employee base. We want the employees here to feel like they’re an important part of Eagle County and we want to keep them.”

Commissioner Arn Menconi asked the committee members whether they thought all 166 employees identified are not being paid fairly.

“I would say yes,” Baumgartner said. “We had everybody at the table present their employees and why they thought they should be paid something different than they were being paid.”

Undersheriff and committee member Jeff Layman said correcting the compression problem is critical to the idea of sustainable communities.

“We think it could disturb the internal dynamics which we’ve worked so hard for,” Layman said. “We want to sustain our employees if we’re going to really provide a real benefit to our communities.”

The same committee will present a proposal for making market adjustments to wages to the commissioners next week.

Staff Writer Chris Outcalt can be reached at 970-748-2931 or

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