By Cathleen Twardzik
At a recent Legislative Matters Committee, as a Committee of the Whole meeting, a possible pay raise for non-union City of Somerville employees was discussed.
At present, that pay raise has not been approved because “the proposal remains in committee,” said Thomas P. Champion, Executive Director of Communications and Cable of the City of Somerville.
A vote at the meeting was deferred regarding “the recommendations [of] the Municipal Compensation Advisory Board (MCAB) and additional information [was requested] before taking up the matter at [the] next meeting on October 16,” said Champion.
“The City of Somerville entered into an agreement with the Edward J. Collins Jr. Center for Public Management at the University of Massachusetts Boston, Collins Center, to conduct a Classification and Compensation Study of approximately 150 non-union positions. The Collins center project team met with the city’s Working Group to fine tune the scope of the project,” according to a formal document regarding the pay raise issue.
After having finalized all of the job descriptions and having conducted a salary survey, “it became clear that the salaries in Somerville were well below the average of the comparable municipalities.” One consequence of paying under the market is high turnover, which costs the city in loss of efficiency, knowledge and training.
“The work [in the MCAB report] has been thorough, deliberate and professional, and the conclusions are well supported by comparative data from other communities and an updated assessment of the requirements and responsibilities of each position studied,” said Mayor Curtatone in a letter.
“Our city’s non-union workforce has endured a six year gap since the last citywide salary adjustment and two years of pay furloughs, while leading the way in accepting a higher share of health insurance premiums. Despite these sacrifices, they have continued to serve the city with energy, devotion and distinction, and confirm our reputation as one of the most innovative and efficient communities in the nation,” said Curtatone.
Somerville incorporated a noteworthy salary contingency fund into the 2012 operational budget to support it. That point is one on which the aldermen have already agreed.
Currently, the issue is if the board will sustain the MCAB’s comprehensive proposal.