Join Date: 03/26/2012
Hello fellow taxpayer,
Take a few minutes and read this document. It may look lengthy but is interesting. It is the result of the study conducted about city workers and what and how they are paid. Pay attention to the underscored. It’s about time that what we have been saying is actually supported by a study. It touches on the fact that it certainly is a conflict of interest that city staff negotiates. It touches on how well city staff is compensated on many levels. It also touches on the fact that there are many that don’t live here that don’t care how much their huge wages and benefits cost us that do live here. Now let’s see what city council does with it. Will they let this mess continue or reign it in? And if there is arbitration and the city losses…..guess what lay off to get the payroll back to where it supposed to be. You do this a few times and the give me give me mentality will cease. Take control and run the city. You work for us the taxpayer. The question now becomes how will we the taxpayer and citizens of Dover be represented?
The International Union of Electronic, Electrical, Salaried, Machine and Furniture Workers/Communication Workers of America, Local 88315
This part of the Report covers approximately 145 employees in jobs covered by the IUE/CWA. The classification plan appears to have an abundance of job classes, e.g., there are Customer Service Clerks, Library Clerks, Office Assistants, Police Clerks, Account Clerks, Library Assistants and Central Maintenance Clerks. This made pay comparisons with other jurisdictions much more difficult. The pay for IUE/CWA positions is consistent with requirements of their Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA). Salary ranges within the IUE/CWA appear to be in line with the comparator jurisdictions. However, the personnel cost to the City for this group of employees is inflated because 50% of IUE/CWA employees are at the top of their pay ranges. The high number of workers at the top of their pay ranges along with the specificity of job classifications, as noted above, tends to limit career mobility, advancement, and promotional opportunities. Those factors in turn create pressure to increase pay (annually) and/or stress the job classification system to inflate grade levels.
Practical Observation: The City Council should consider establishing a classification committee (consisting of the City Manager, HR Director & all department heads) to review all job re-grading, reclassifications, title changes, and position establishments. This will help infuse integrity in the process, e.g., improve internal consistency, fair unbiased review, and support the concept of equal pay for substantially equal work.
Benefits: The 42% benefits package, as a percentage of salaries, appears to be high. Many years ago, the City picked up the Medicare Part B for City retirees. That benefit has been phased out for current unionized employees via collective bargaining, but the expectation of that benefit still exists for some current non bargaining unit employees. As such, that must be considered an outlier and as the gift that keeps on giving to those employees/future retirees.
IEU/CWA employees enjoy a generous retirement sick leave buy-back policy. This is staggered with 150 days as the maximum with 25 years of service; 130 days with 20 years of service and so on, down to 100 days, regardless of the length of service. This means that an employee is paid for 150 accumulated sick days (maximum) upon retirement. 150 days represents a significant part of an actual work year since regularly scheduled full time employees normally only work 249 days if no vacation days is taken. Under the present situation, an employee retiring in March 2012 would receive paychecks till October 2012. Other city governments that pay “lump sum” for accrued sick leave days pay a maximum of 90 days.
Recommendation: City Council should consider reducing this lump sum expense for future retirees, beginning perhaps in FY 2015. Unused sick leave days (in excess of any new maximum determined by City Council) could be added to length of service time to enhance retirement calculation in any ratio, for example, 1 added retirement day for each 2 unused sick leave days.
The Educational Assistance Program (EAP) benefits the employer and encourages employees to better themselves. Payment is based on grades, with 100% tuition reimbursement with all. However, there isn’t a requirement specifying that educational courses must be job related.
Recommendation: City Council should consider a policy that educational payments be restricted to job related courses only and that employees be required to pay a small portion of the costs for books, lab fees, etc. Even though the savings would be minimal, this idea encourages employees to be co owners of the process. Management should be encouraged to adjust work schedules as possible for employees who take advantage of educational opportunities either under this provision or wholly at the employee’s expense.
Non-Bargaining Unit Employees
This part of the Report applies to non-bargaining unit employees. The term “non-bargaining unit employee” refers to those Dover city positions/employees that are not represented by a union; those are the directors, managers, supervisors, Professional, confidential, and others whose positions are not included in one of Dover’s three unions. Pay increases or benefit changes for this group are not dictated by a CBA. The City Council approves changes in pay and benefits for this group that the City Manager recommends as reasonable, necessary, and in the public interest.
Overview: The Human Resources Director explained that there isn’t significant job turnover, and there hasn’t been difficulty in finding qualified candidates to fill vacant positions. Based on the pay increases granted over the past eight + years, pay increases for many employees in this group grew beyond that which would reasonably seen in a down economy. Decisions to increase pay appear to have had little regard to the potential impact that these increases place on the City budget. Pay for Performance policies requires salary increases for non-bargaining unit employees to be granted at the same rate as those given to any Dover union employees via collective bargaining. As such, that policy expresses a clear conflict of interest (COI) for any management official who is responsible for negotiating a collective bargaining agreement (CBA) with any of Dover’s three labor unions. In addition, Dover’s non-bargaining unit employees also benefit from a fairly liberal “pay for performance” program which allows management to conflate one-time annual bonuses (as reward for current performance) with permanent pay increases. That, and the pay parity clause with the three Dover city unions resulted in pay for non-bargaining unit employees to be highly competitive. City personnel policies also allow an “obligation for parity” for non-bargaining unit employees regarding benefits granted to Dover’s unions. All of the above should cause a reviewer to question how much actual representation the Dover taxpayers have in collective bargaining with any of Dover’s three labor unions.
Pay Issues: Pay for eighty (80) positions of the 85 reviewed was within the range indicated for the grade levels assigned; this represented 94.1% of the positions reviewed. Four (4) positions, (one each in grade levels: 109, 118, 122, and 130), are being paid above the maximum for the grade level of those positions. No explanation was provided that would exempt those four positions from the pay setting policies or allow for the higher pay.
Pay Conclusions: Information and data provided to the committee from nine (9) Delaware municipalities was reviewed for position matches, and pay was compared against a Dover non bargaining unit positions. This was not a locality pay comparison. Job titles were used for comparison matches; 119 title matches were found. Dover city non-bargaining unit employees are compensated at a highly competitive rate with a greater number of the positions at the higher grade levels paid above the average compared to counterpart positions in the cities/towns reviewed. That observation lessens for the middle and lower graded positions. Pay is fairly consistent with what should be expected when senior employees (those with long tenure) have congregated at the top of the pay scale for their positions. There was no indication of underpay for any “group” of Dover non-bargaining unit positions. This is no evidence of significant attrition or turnover in this part of the Dover workforce, and no evidence of any recruiting concerns (lack of applicants) even in the lower grade level jobs. Based on this review there should be no valid basis for any broad-brush claim that Dover city non-bargaining unit employees are not being fairly (monetarily) compensated for their work.
Practical Observation: The City Council could review and consider rescinding all parts of the pay for performance, and benefits parity policies that give a perception of impropriety or conflict of interest. Elimination those provisions should also help improve the appearance of integrity.
City Council should only consider raising pay for non-bargaining unit positions when there is evidence that pay is beginning to have a negative impact employee retention, applicant recruitment, customer service, productivity, or is increasing cost to the taxpayer, e.g. through a huge increase in overtime expenses. City Council should consider allowing ad hoc bonuses (in lieu of permanent pay increases) to address specific retention or recruiting problems. It is necessary to review the pay setting for the four positions paid “over maximum” as noted above.5
Benefit Issues: A generous benefit package, considered as the “golden handcuffs of employment”, was historically true for this group until changes came about to ensure pay comparability with the other municipalities, the private sector, and parity with unions. Pay increases were granted, as requested by the City Manager and with the consent of City Council, without any apparent offset of benefits. One example of this is the obligation to reimburse Medicare Part B for retiring non-bargaining unit employees. The total average cost of the benefit package for all 372 Dover City employees (above base salary) is 41.8%. The overall benefit cost to the city is 42.2% for employees compensated from the General Fund. Compare that to the 25% to 28% benefit package costs for federal employees. Dover employee’s benefit packages cost the City at least 13% more than that of the average federal worker in the commuting area. In addition, City employees enjoy an additional paid holiday over federal workers; and get 27 vacation days versus a maximum of 26 for federal workers. The largest expense to the City may be the 100% employer paid health care coverage versus 60% that the federal government pays for federal workers’ health care plans.
Recommendations: Consider eliminating the employer obligation to pay Medicare Part B except for those who are now receiving that benefit. Consider requiring all newly hired employees to pick up a percentage of their health benefits costs.
Observation: Based on the job titles in the information provided to the committee, there could be responsibility overlap in several positions with the word “coordinator” in the title. These include the Economic Development Coordinator, the Community Development Coordinator, and the Downtown Coordinator. Since these positions are not paid out of the same divisional funds, the conclusion is that they are not collocated under the same organizational structure.
Recommendations: Consider aligning those jobs under the same organizational umbrella to increase efficiencies as a test. Regardless of any job overlap, that should allow for increased communications, job coverage when someone is away from work, and more effective operations. Consider a review of all positions for potential responsibility overlap and/or position fragmentation. Require an annual certification to City Council that all positions are necessary, essential, and that work is assigned in the most cost effective manner to ensure efficient and successful business operations.
Observation: City employees should to have an interest in the cost and conduct of city business.
Recommendation: Consider an ordinance requiring all newly hired city employees to reside within the city within six (6) months after employment.
International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local 1238
This part of the Report involves about 35 positions. Assessment of comparable data from Middletown, Milford, Newark and Seaford for (lineman/techs/workers) is that the Dover appears to pay a very good and competitive salary for experienced workers. The more senior a position is classified the more competitive the salary is in comparison to other municipalities use for comparison. Hourly rates for specific positions such as crew leaders and the three lineman classes trend to the higher hourly range.6
Positions classified in lower pay grades fell within the range of similarly classified jobs in municipalities across the state, but tended not to be compensated at the high end. A specific example is the position of Meter Tech. Dover Meter Tech’s appeared well compensated in
in Newark. Dover’s Groundworkers appeared to fall in the lower end of the range (across the board) compared to other municipalities in this study. Differences in salaries are probably caused by the scope of responsibilities assigned to similarly titled positions in other municipalities. The Dover Electric Director explained that Dover’s Electrical system is not comparable to other municipalities in the State. Smaller municipalities may assign work not necessarily comparable to the expertise needed to service the more complicated Dover electrical equipment. Retaining well trained employees is crucial to maintaining a well serviced system. The specialized knowledge required to service Dover’s system generally limits lateral movement from town to town, i.e., for employees moving to Dover, or vice versa.
Dover’s Electric employees are well compensated in comparison to other municipalities across our State. Senior positions are the best compensated, because our City values and rewards experience, technical expertise, and prefers to retain employees with the specialized knowledge required of the Dover systems. Compensation for entry level positions compares favorably to similarly classified jobs in municipalities across the State; these do not trend on the upper limits of the compensation ranges reviewed. A salary comparison was also made with the Delaware Electric Co-Op. Hourly rates paid to DECO employees were $2 to $5 per hour higher than City employees in similar positions. This is a $4,000 to $10,000 difference in annual salary.
Recommendation: Conduct a further analysis of the benefits package offered to DECO employees to determine total compensation costs. This should respond to and clarify any concerns over the apparent salary differential favoring DECO employees.
Fraternal Order of Police, Lodge #15
Information provided from nine FOP jurisdictions were reviewed and compared to the Dover’s 93 Police Department (PD) positions. The findings revealed that out of the approximate eight police positions (from Police Chief to Patrolman), that Dover PD pay exceeded the Wilmington Police Department in four positions as follows:
Dover Position Title & Pay Wilmington Position Title & Pay
Police Captain - $97,760.00 Police Captain - $96,829.92
Police Master Corporal - $75,150.00 Police Master Corporal - $73,679.30
Patrolman First Class - $53,830.40 Patrolman First Class - $51,403.77
Patrolman - $45,094.40 Patrolman - $44,573.83
The City of Wilmington’s Police Department is three times larger than Dover Police Department. Wilmington’s population is 70,851, (1,243 shy of doubling Dover’s 36,047). The comparative ratio for the Wilmington PD is 4.56 officers per 1000 people compared to the Dover PD’s 2.43 officers per 1000 people. Wilmington’s crime rate is almost double that of Dover.
The City of Newark’s has a population of 31,454 with approximately 64 police officers, (2.36 officers per 1000 people). Patrolman’s starting salary is ($46,946) which exceeds both the Dover and Wilmington Police Departments. Newark’s crime rate is less than Dover’s. The New York City Police Department serves a population of 8,008,278 with approximately 35,100 police
officers. An NYPD Patrolman’s salary is $41,970; that is approximately $3,124 lower than the same job in the Dover Police Department.
Observation: Pay for the City of Dover Police Department exceeds that of Wilmington, which is a larger populated municipality, and in four out of the eight other FOP positions matched. There is no evidence of recruiting or retention problems with Dover’s FOP employment.
Recommendations: City Council should consider reducing the in-hire-rate for new “basic” patrolman to only slightly higher than the average of competitive municipalities. In addition, Management’s position on future collective bargaining on Dover FOP pay raises should be limited to that which is considered reasonable, necessary and in the public interest.
Observation: The City of Dover provides a great benefits package to the FOP including bonus programs such as the STOP Program (Sensibly Taking Off Pounds) which is a weight loss incentive program; the Breathe Program (Smoking Cessation Incentive); and the SHAPE Program (So have a physical exam).
Recommendations: City Council should consider encouraging future collective bargaining to eliminate these and use the set-aside monies to recruit new patrolman.
Observation: There was little evidence that the Educational Assistance Program (EAP) was being used.
Recommendations: City Council should consider discontinuing this program and apply the funding to other FOP employment needs.
Better than average pay, generous benefits, and good working conditions are three major reasons for low attrition, and relatively easy recruitment in the Dover city workforce. Long tenured (senior) employee’s pay tends to aggregate at the high end of their pay ranges. As changes came about to ensure comparability with private sector pay, and that of other municipalities pay increases were requested by the City Manager and granted with consent of City Council, all without any apparent offset of benefits. This may have seemed logical at the time, but it simply means that revenue will ultimately have to be increased merely to maintain pace with the rising employment costs in the out-years; some refer to this phenomenon as a “pay and benefits death spiral.” Pay and benefits determined through the Collective Bargaining processes with Dover’s three unions presents another challenge. Any increase granted to one union merely encourages “whipsaw” from the other two unions when they renegotiate labor management contracts with the City. Management, (when engaged in the collective bargaining process), must recognize that they represent the City of Dover and its citizenry, and that concessions made at the bargaining table may have far reaching effects. Dover is the only city in this survey that reimburses for Medicare Part B. We believe that practical, effective austerity measures can be implemented that would improve the efficiency of City cost operations without negative impact on employees. Absent any clear and convincing evidence that pay or benefits is having a negative affect on employee retention, applicant recruitment, customer service, productivity, or is increasing cost to the taxpayer, e.g. through a huge increase in overtime expenses there would be little logic to increase pay or benefits.