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Campbell County considers merit increases for employees

Human Resources Executive Director Brandy Elder said at the Board of Commissioners' Jan. 17 meeting that no county employee has received a merit increase in salary in three years.

Campbell County Human Resources Executive Director Brandy Elder discusses county employee salaries with the Board of Commissioners at the Jan. 17 meeting. (GPA-TV)

GILLETTE, Wyo. — Campbell County staff and officials are reviewing whether and how to give county employees merit increases.

Human Resources Executive Director Brandy Elder said at the Board of Commissioners’ Jan. 17 meeting that no county employee has received a merit pay increase in salary in three years.

At that board meeting, the board presented the following message as part of its Fiscal Year 2023-2024 Budget Preparation Message:

The Fiscal Year 2023-2024 budget will continue to place focus and priority on our employees. Annually, the Compensation Committee provides its recommendation to the Board of Commissioners for employee pay and benefits. Currently, the significant increase in the national inflation rate and cost of living for Campbell County residents justifies a consideration for a Cost-of-Living increase for all employees (Rate TBD). The Compensation Committee will also review the capability and process to have an awards merit program to provide recognition of their efforts, retention, and incentive to perform to the best of one’s capabilities. This merit system will be based on performance documented through a future revised annual assessment on employee performance. Departments must strive to provide adequate service levels with their current approved staffing levels.

The board sends out the budget message to each county department to give guidance on expectations of what the board might decide regarding departments’ budget requests, Chairman Colleen Faber said.

“We do our best to make all of that fit together with what our valuation is expected and the revenue,” she said.

Elder said the county’s compensation committee includes 13 members from various county departments. The committee includes both people who recently joined the county after working in the private sector and those who are longtime county employees, Elder said.

Faber and Commissioner Del Shelstad are on that committee currently, Shelstad said. He said he believes the board should transition new commissioners to the committee next year. Faber said the board expects a request for a cost-of-living-adjustment, or COLA, this year from the county committee that annually evaluates employees’ compensation.

The committee will present a recommendation at the board’s Feb. 21 meeting, and the board can decide whether to follow that recommendation.

Faber said the county’s employees are one of the most valuable assets the county provides.

“We know that citizens look to us for that service, and we want to really reward them for the work that they do,” she said.

Shelstad said he believes that merit increases are more important than COLA increases.

“If you’re an outstanding employee who goes above and beyond, there should be some type of reward for that, monetarily,” he said.

Elder said the previous merit raises system that was in place wasn’t the best system.

She said that if the committee recommends giving merit increases, and if the board agrees, then between that date and the beginning of July, she and her staff will create a system and work with the committee to finalize it. Then, the board will decide whether to approve the system. Merit increases would come into effect for employees in September or October, at the time of the first installment of property taxes. COLA increases would come into effect in June or July.

In March 2022, the board approved the committee’s recommendation to provide employees with a 7% COLA increase. That year, the turnover rate for Campbell County fiscal year 2020 and 2021 was 15.1%, Elder told the board before the March 15, 2022, vote. The top two reasons for leaving county employment were other employment or for retirement. According to an employee survey, the top two concerns were compensation and benefits costs. The committee made its recommendations after reviewing a few other counties’ salaries and national surveys that focused on the Mountain region. Before 2022, the last time county employees received raises was in 2019, and that was a merit increase.

The Board of Directors’ next meeting is at 1:30 p.m. Feb. 6. At the Board of Directors meetings, county department directors, including Elder, provide updates to commissioners.


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