James J. McCoart Administration Building

Prince William County's James J. McCoart Administration building.

Prince William County Executive Chris Martino has asked the board of supervisors to restructure the county’s employee classification system – a move that would result in pay raises for nearly half of the county’s employees.

The changes would not affect police officers, firefighters or employees of the county’s school division. But 1,627 employees who work for county administration, libraries, the parks and recreation department and other county agencies would be included in the changes, which were outlined during a work session the board of supervisors held Tuesday, Sept. 10.  

The recommendation stems from a directive the board gave Martino back in April 2017 to assess the county’s current employee pay classification system, which was last updated in the 1990s.

About 1,000 county employees would receive an average 3% pay increase under the study’s recommendations at the cost of about $4.3 million. The remaining 627 employees impacted are provisional or hourly workers whose pay raises would total about $600,000.

The county hired Gallagher Benefit Services Inc. to conduct the classification and compensation study to address equity, legal compliance, compression and competitiveness for the county’s civilian workforce.

During the Sept. 10 work session, Ronnie Charles, managing partner for the firm, said the county’s current compensation system is “somewhat antiquated.”

Based on the study, the firm recommends switching to a new classification structure called the “decision band method” to ensure internal job equity, regardless of race, gender or age, and to keep Prince William competitive for employee talent in the Northern Virginia region.

The supervisors were asked to adopt the new system in two phases, beginning Jan. 4, 2020. The first phase would bring employee salaries up to the minimum salary of the new pay band at the cost of $4.9 million.

Martino said the overall costs of the proposed pay raises are still being calculated and are expected to match the size of a 2016 public safety compensation study that led to a restructuring of salaries for police officers, firefighters and correctional employees. That restructuring cost about $13 million, and the raises went into effect last year.

“Addressing retention and recruitment in all of our agencies is vital to the board's strategic vision for a community of choice,” Martino said.

The supervisors were initially scheduled to take action on the compensation study during their next meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 17. But Supervisors Jeanine Lawson, R-Brentsville, and Victor Angry, D-Neabsco, said they needed more time to deliberate.

“We've got to figure out how we’re going to fund it before we vote on it because I don’t want to put the cart before the horse,” Lawson said. “I’m not ready to vote on this next week.”

Reach Daniel Berti at dberti@fauquier.com

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