COLUMBUS, Ind.–Columbus City Council on Tuesday night voted unanimously to implement recommendations from a year-long salary study designed to boost recruitment and retention of city employees. The action by the council is hailed by many as the first effort in many administrations to complete a salary study, let alone adopt its findings.
The ordinance to amend the city’s salary structure began with a brief introduction by Mary Ferdon, followed by a presentation by Columbus Police Chief Jon Rohde. Rohde painted a picture of the department’s “crisis” in retaining officers of good standing and recruiting additional officers. Officers who were leaving the force and agreed to take exit interviews largely shared that they were accepting jobs elsewhere because they were offered better compensation and benefits compared to Columbus.
Many city officials echoed the chief’s concerns with concerns over their own departments and staffs, leading to the determination that Columbus has a problem in need of an immediate solution.
The exhaustive study looked at eight peer cities that were compared by population size, the city budget, and the number of city employees. Ferdon and Human Resources director Arlette Cooper-Tinsley emphasized that painstaking measures were taken to ensure the consultant team was making apples-to-apples comparisons when collecting data.
The study’s recommended course of action from the study was to implement an incremental pay increase for city employees to bring them up to a midpoint salary average. In June, the council will vote again on the amendment, which would increase the pay of 11 current city employees to the current minimum salary range for their positions. Over the next two-to-three years, all employees would be brought to the midpoint salary average, starting first with public safety officers and regular city employees, and then elected officials.