The first stage of changing the way City of Greensboro employees are paid will be in the budget presented to the City Council on Tuesday, June 15.

Beginning the move away from the current merit system of awarding raises to employees and to the step plan is currently in the budget according to Mayor Nancy Vaughan.

At the City Council work session on June 7, Vaughan, along with Councilmembers Justin Outling, Marikay Abuzuaiter and Nancy Hoffmann, opposed the move to the step plan, while Councilmembers Sharon Hightower, Tammi Thurm, Michelle Kennedy and Goldie Wells all expressed support.

Councilmember Yvonne Johnson was absent, which left the City Council with four in favor and four against.

Vaughan said that the city staff determined that a majority of the City Council was in favor of moving employees to the step plan.

If that is the case, then Johnson must have said she was in favor of the step plan, giving it a council majority.

The issue doesn’t involve a great deal of money in the $618 million budget, somewhere around $100,000, but Vaughan noted that it was changing the “philosophy” on how city employees should be compensated.

Under the current merit system, employee raises are determined based on their evaluations within the range set by the City Council.

The step plan pays all employees on the same step the same salary and they receive the same raise.

Abuzuaiter said that it appeared to her that the step plan would encourage “mediocrity.”

Abuzuaiter also noted that more than 1,000 employees responded to a survey and 56 percent were in favor of the current merit system while only 22 percent were in favor of the step plan and 22 percent were undecided.  Abuzuaiter said with such overwhelming support for the current system it didn’t make sense to change it.

Hightower has been pushing for the step plan for years because she said that supervisors didn’t award the raises fairly. 

Thurm only agreed to support trying the step plan after she was assured the city could go back to the merit system after trying the step plan for a year.