At a special meeting on January 31, 2023, the Sanford City Council approved a new wage and classification plan for non-union City employees. While union employees’ pay and classifications are studied before each contract renegotiation, a similar study for non-union employees had not been done for many years. It was determined that a study would help with hiring and retention of employees in these positions, as the labor market has changed significantly over the past few years. The study was done by Municipal Resources, Inc., a New Hampshire company that offers professional, technical and managerial services to municipalities and school districts.
The City’s non-union employees include department heads and administrators, including the City Manager, Airport Manager, Public Works Director, City Clerk, Facilities Manager, Parks and Recreation Director and others; command positions within the Police and Fire Departments and Dispatch Center; their Executive Assistants; and a few others.
Data from ten other comparable cities and towns was used for comparison. These were Auburn, Biddeford, Brunswick, Lewiston, Saco, South Portland and Westbrook, ME; and Dover, Portsmouth and Rochester, NH.
The study found that many positions needed to have salaries increased to be competitive in the job market. The new plan will set salaries at the 75th percentile of the market, meaning 75% of the municipalities studied pay at or below the salary rate, and 25% pay higher. Several positions in Sanford have been paid significantly less than comparable communities, including the City Clerk, General Assistance Director, Code Enforcement Officers and Assistant City Engineer.
The new wage scale will also help with compression, which is what happens when new employees are brought on at wages close to or higher than current employees. The study noted that compression can lead to low morale and high turnover.
The plan also revises job descriptions for non-union employees. The classification plan includes 18 grades, with 20 steps in each grade.
The review of benefits found the City has an overall excellent benefits package which is competitive with other communities. The study recommended consideration of adding a dental plan and some type of longevity program to acknowledge the benefit of experience and talent of long-term employees.
The complete report can be viewed as part of the Council’s packet of information for the meeting, which is available here.