About 960 Allen County employees will see a larger paycheck in April.

The County Council approved an amendment to the salary ordinance Thursday based on Phase I of a study to retain and attract employees.

These changes, which start in the next pay period, will add $2.4 million a year in the county’s budget, said Ryan Woodward, account manager with consulting firm Clemans Nelson & Associates of Columbus. The firm started work on revamping pay scales and job descriptions last March.

Nancy Steigmeyer, Allen County’s human resources director, said not all the county’s almost 2,000 positions will see a pay increase. The raises only affect positions where pay was determined to be below market value, based on compensation for workers in similar positions elsewhere.

Some workers will see raises starting at 1% and for others the increases may reach about 15%, Steigmeyer said. Those raises are also in addition to the 5.5% annual raises all county employees received this year.

Council President Tom Harris hopes the pay equity will increase the longevity of county employees, especially with inflation recently.

“One challenge we have is we watched a lot of turnover,” Harris said.

Heidi Miller, regional manager for Clemans Nelson, said some of the turnover may be generational for those who are millennials and younger.

“They don’t seem to stay at jobs that long,” Miller said.

Clemans Nelson arrived at the recommended increases by comparing Allen County’s pay levels with those in Lake County, the city of Fort Wayne and similarly sized municipalities in Texas and Illinois.

The ordinance amendment included a change in when county employees get raises.

Under the previous system, employees received increases after the first six months, but the next raise was after three years and the following one after five years.

Now there’s another raise after a year, Woodward said.

The raises in the ordinance amendment don’t include administrators or executives, which will be covered in Phase II of the study, Steigmeyer said. Elected officials’ pay will be covered in Phase III, and the review will be finished by the time budgeting starts in July.

Steigmeyer said the county’s pay system hasn’t been reevaluated since 1978 and is dated, including in pay tiers – the levels employees are paid at based on longevity – and job description.

In the next two phases, Clemans Nelson staff will also look at how hiring people with experience, such as engineers, will be handled to be competitive. Woodward and Harris said they’d likely be hired at appropriate tiers, their experience corresponding to the level of working for the county for a number of years instead of at the minimum rate for their designation.

The consultants will also look at compression in pay differences. Steigmeyer said compression happens either when employees are making almost as much or the same amount as their supervisors or when newer employees are making the same as long-time employees.

Also at the meeting, the council approved two new school resources officers for the Allen County Sheriff’s Department.

The officers will work in the Southwest Allen County Schools and were requested by the district, Sheriff Troy Hershberger said. Their salary will be $68,632 each, and Hershberger wants to see at least 80% funded by grants.

Local Government and General Assignment Reporter

Reporter James D. Wolf Jr. began working as a journalist in 1987 while earning his bachelor’s degree at Purdue University Calumet. He has worked in Indiana, Iowa and Illinois.