Proposed alteration in county pay scales receives mixed reactions

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Almost half of Shelby County's 44,000 employees could see pay raises as a result of the findings in a new compensation study.

Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell's administration ordered a comprehensive compensation study several months ago. If commissioners approve the suggested changes, county pay scales would be altered.

That's good for some employees but bad for others.

"We've put band aids on pay problems," Luttrell said.

Luttrell told commissioners Wednesday the county needed to equalize pay across the board.

The study examined 101 job titles and compared them with eight other metro areas. In all, it found the county is fairly competitive in its pay but roughly one third of county jobs are paid below market.

The study also found the county should simplify its pay scales, reducing the number of pay scales from nine to three.

Any employees who made above market rates could lose cost of living raises.

"I just think that kind of penalizes them for being where they are," commissioner Eddie Jones said.

Commissioners had mixed reactions primarily because of $1 million set aside in 2016 to offer correctional officers at the penal farm pay raises and back pay.

"My memory was when we set the $1 million aside, it was specifically for correction officer pay," commissioner Heidi Shafer said.

"If that money doesn't go to where we are saying it's supposed to go then there will be an amendment to take it and put it somewhere else," commissioner Terry Roland said.

The administration said all the $1 million would not be needed to equalize pay for correctional officers and it isn't fair to all employees.

"To try to single out a particular classification and make them the focal point is just adding band aids to band aids, and we're not going to do that," Luttrell said. "We're going to make it equitable for all our employees."

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