The Brownfield City Council met in person on Thursday, November 19 and the first order of business was the swearing in of newly appointed councilman Isaiah Bautista. Bautista was appointed at the last meeting to fill the unexpired term of Tom Hesse, who was elected Mayor in the November election.
Once Bautista was sworn in, the council heard a lengthy report from Katherine Ray of Ray Associates, who had been conducting a compensation study for the City of Brownfield for the last several months. It took longer than planned due to the COVID pandemic and issues related to that.
The study was authorized to learn where the City of Brownfield falls on the pay schedule for various positions in comparison to other cities in the area and with comparable populations and other categories.
It was determined that the City falls below average in most positions, with only two positions being marked as above average. Those two positions were that of Municipal Judge and the Part-Time Animal Control Officer.
In many categories, Brownfield was at the lowest or next to lowest on the pay scale. There were also many that were below average, as stated, and two jobs that were near the highest on the comparison chart to other like cities.
Ray also identified some issues with how the Fire Department was paid and how Dispatch employees were paid.
The Brownfield Police Department showed well below average pay in comparison to other cities.
Other findings showed that certain job titles needed to be changed to be more in keeping with what the job actually requires.
To fully get City of Brownfield salaries where they should be in comparison to other cities in the area, it will cost $356,460 over a 12-month period.
The Ray Associates recommendations include:
1. Adopt the recommended classification changes (job title changes for some positions.).
2. Adopt the recommended Fiscal Year 2020-2021 pay schedules for General Government, Police, and Fire to bring the City’s salary structure in line with the median (50th percentile) of the market.
This involves salary adjustments for those City employees whose salary is below the market-based recommended entry level (step 1) for their positions. And, also adjustments if an employee’s current salary fell between two steps on one of the pay schedules.
3. In future years, we recommend the City make annual across-the-board adjustments based on a percentage of base pay, and that those adjustments always be applied to the City’s General Government, Police and Fire Pay Schedules.
a. At least equivalent to the percent change in the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment Cost Index (ECI) for salaries and wages over the preceding 12-month period available from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistic’s website.
b. Supplement ECI figures with calls to the benchmark employers used in this study and/or review of other supplemental data to determine what’s happening in the market re salary structure adjustments.
4. Establish and declare an official work period for certified fire personnel in line with Sec. 207(k) exemption from FLSA, which more effectively utilizes their time to the benefit of the City.
Studying the City’s benefits package to employees was also recommended. Ray did mention that the current City of Brownfield benefits package was more generous than other cities, including paying full coverage for employee and dependents.
It is the hope of the City of Brownfield that implementing some of these salary changes will help to retain City employees, and also entice people to want to come work for the City as the “Baby Boomer” generation gets ready to retire out of the system.
A work session will be held to discuss how to put these recommendations into practice.
In other business, a request from South Plains Implement (John Deere) for water utility services to be provided outside the city limits for the expanded development of their current location was presented. The business has plans to expand their operation on property located outside the city limits. The property is located directly outside the city limits on Seagraves Highway. Under the City of Brownfield Code of Ordinances, water and sewer services are allowed outside the city, if it is approved by the City Council on a case by case basis.
The Council did approve this request. The expense of connecting to the City water system falls on the business.
The Council also discussed continuing to approve the Mayoral Order of Declaration of Local Disaster. After some discussion of various events, the vote was to continue the order. City Attorney Matt Wade will draft letters to local funeral homes encouraging the businesses to adhere to the “no more than 10” group policy.