Taylor puts brakes on Lott-era pay raises

Photo by Laura Williams

Photo by Laura Williams

ALBANY, Ga. -- Interim City Manager James Taylor has halted some pay raises that had been approved by former City Manager Alfred Lott and referred them for a review by a company contracted to develop the city's pay study.

The move comes as the city continues to implement a pay study that was first undertaken in 2007 by the Archer Company -- a nationally known corporation that analyzes market data and salary trends to bring pay scales more in line with industry standards.

According to records provided to The Albany Herald in a response to an open records request for the salaries of department heads going back to Fiscal Year 2008, seven of the city's 14 department heads received pay increases since July 1, 2009. Those numbers don't reflect the city's planning department and the human resources department, which are vacant at the department head level.

Six received salary increases between July 1, 2008, and June 30, 2009.

All but one department head received some level of a pay increase since July 1, 2007.

Most, according to Taylor, were increases recommended by the pay study. Some were cost-of-living adjustments and some were increases for additional duties, such as when Recreation and Parks Director Suzanne Davis was appointed by Lott to manage the operations of the Civic Center as a part of the department.

Taylor and Assistant City Manager Wes Smith each got a raise during the same time period, Taylor and Smith said.

But what prompted Taylor to put a temporary halt on a few employees' raises were what he described as "significant" changes in pay below the department head level. He said he believes those pay increases need to be reviewed before they're implemented.

"There were some changes that occurred before I took over that I was very uncomfortable with," Taylor said Tuesday. "... I've asked Archer to fast-track the review of these that were reviewed and approved previously because I was uncomfortable with some of the changes, organizationally, I was uncomfortable with some of the changes that were proposed."

"Not that I think that they're wrong, I just think the (review) process ensures that we don't end up where we were before, where things are all out of kilter."

Taylor said the reason for the pay study was to prevent people who perform similar jobs, have similar time on the job and perform at similar levels from having sharp differences in pay.

"That was the reason for the pay study; to normalize the pay structure and if we don't manage it well, it will get all out of kilter and we'll have to go pay someone to normalize it again, " Taylor said.

Currently, the second phase of the three-phase pay study has been developed. The first phase was to bring city employees up to what Archer said were minimum pay levels based on job descriptions.

Phase II increased pay level based on the employee's longevity in his or her current job.

Phase III would award pay increases based on a merit system that isn't in place.