The City Council of Texarkana, Texas held a workshop recently to discuss employee compensation.

Human Resources Director Jim Powell presented findings that were the result of a year-long compensation study conducted in partnership with consultant, PayScale.

The study presented comparisons of the salaries of every Texarkana, Texas employee to market rates. A ten member committee made up of city employees reviewed the study before the presentation was made to council, and made decisions about how the process was conducted.

Mayor Bob Bruggeman and other council members listened intently to the presentation.

"Jim Powell did an excellent job of presenting compensation data to the council during the workshop to inform the council as to how the city currently stacks-up with both Civil Service and non-Civil Service positions in comparison to other comparable cities in the region,” Bruggeman said. “It is very important for the city to be in a position to attract highly qualified applicants and to retain and adequately compensate existing employees.”

During the study, each position within the city was studied to understand job descriptions, qualifications, expectations and salary structure. A market analysis was completed, peer group was identified, and a review was completed of the way positions are structured within the city. This process began in the summer of 2015 and was completed this spring.

Turnover was discussed during the presentation, revealing that while the city experienced a 17 percent turnover in 2014, the average turnover from the past five years citywide has been 12.13 percent. The positions that have experienced the highest turnover since 2011 include dispatcher, truck driver, laborer, and police officer.

The historical data regarding city salary adjustments showed that city employees have not received a cost of living adjustment since 2011, and before that since 2008. Approximately 1/3 of city employees have been hired since 2011, and therefore have never received a raise of COLA.

The compensation study was completed in two different categories: non-civil service and civil service. In the area of non-civil service, to raise employees to the midpoint average of the market rate of pay would cost the city $449,186 which would mean a 6.08 percent increase including salary and benefits. This would impact a total of 204 non-civil service employees.

In the area of civil service, as it relates to police and fire employees, the study compared Texarkana to cities such as Denison, Huntsville, Longview, Lufkin, Marshall, Paris, Sherman, and Nacogdoches, Texas. It should be noted that Huntsville Fire Department was removed from the fire department peer group, because Huntsville Fire Department is mostly comprised of volunteers.

In summary, to raise salaries for Texarkana Texas Fire Department to match the peer group average would mean an 11.02 percent increase including benefits and cost $382,884.15 while the Texarkana Texas Police Department would have to be raised 7.21 percent including benefits, at a cost of $314,330.68.

In total, to bring City of Texarkana, Texas including non-civil service up to the midpoint range of their peer group salaries, and match the average of peer groups for police and fire, would impact City budgets $1,146,400.69.

In conjunction with the compensation recommendations, a recommendation was made that the city restructure the step increases for non-civil service so that the structure is mathematically sound and follows best practices ensuring midpoints align with market data.

For more information, please contact Lisa Thompson at (903) 798-1748 or lisa.thompson@txkusa.org.