GENEVA – After extensive discussion at Tuesday’s meeting, aldermen approved an employee compensation and classification study costing $35,500.
The study, awarded to GovHR of Northbrook, will cover 68 non-union positions, City Administrator Stephanie Dawkins said.
The city’s adopted compensation plan requires that it be reviewed every five years.
“Ensuring that the city’s compensation and classification plan is current and competitive is essential if the city intends to continue to fill key positions,” Dawkins said. “Failure to invest in this study has the potential to jeopardize the city’s position to identify, recruit and retain top talent.”
Third Ward Alderwoman Becky Hruby said she was struggling to see the value in doing the study.
Human Resources Generalist Mera Johnson said it was becoming increasingly difficult for her to fill positions.
“A neighboring community just posted an analyst position and because our study is five years old, our starting pay for the same position is $63,000,” Johnson said. “They just posted it at $73,000 for starting pay. So imagine if I go out and I say I want an analyst at the same time … who am I going to get? And how am I going to recruit someone? It makes it more difficult to do my job when we have an outdated compensation plan in place.”
Hruby asked Tuesday if she could just Google that position for the salary range and “fill that particular need without much difficulty.”
Johnson said she was bound by the city’s compensation plan.
Though she voted against it at a Dec. 19 committee meeting, Hruby voted in favor of the study Tuesday night.
But 5th Ward Alderman Robert Swanson voted no, just as he did at committee.
“I voted against this at the previous COW (Committee of the Whole), not because I disagree with doing the study – the contract itself was too rich, too expensive,” Swanson said.
At the time, Swanson had said when the city did a joint study with Batavia in 2017, it cost Geneva $16,000. And when St. Charles did its own study in 2021-22, it cost less than $25,000.
Second Ward Alderman Richard Marks said he didn’t disagree with doing the study, but asked if the cost increase was due to the current economics.
Johnson said she spoke to North Aurora last fall and they paid $15,000 for a study for 30 positions.
“That’s in line with what we are paying here,” Johnson said.
Marks questioned whether the city could wait a year to do the study, but Johnson said she can’t fill positions that are open now.
“People are retiring and I can’t fill them,” Johnson said.
First Ward Alderman Michael Bruno said he supported doing the study.
“It’s important for us to stay on top of this and be able to recruit and retain people,” Bruno said.
Fourth Ward Alderwoman Amy Mayer said she has seen first-hand in the construction business how the employment market has changed among all different roles, from carpenter to executives.
“The world has shifted and we need to be in a good place as soon as possible to react to it,” Mayer said.
“While it might be more than what we expected or would like (to pay), the money we invest in this, I think, can pay dividends in the people that we get and the talent that they bring to the city,” Mayer said. “We have a lot of key roles retiring in the coming years. We should not be behind the curve. That would be a very bad position to be in.”
Tri-Com Central Dispatch will contribute $5,700 to the cost of the study. Tri-Com Central Dispatch is operated through an intergovernmental agreement between the cities of Batavia, Geneva and St. Charles to 911 emergency services, according to its website, tricom911.org. Its employees are considered the employees of its lead agency, which is the city of Geneva.