City Council left the proposed step plan for employee compensation up in the air at the council work session on Tuesday, June 1, despite a survey showing employees oppose the plan by more than a two-to-one margin.

Beginning the process of moving Greensboro city employees from the current merit compensation plan to a step plan is in the manager’s recommended budget for the 2021-2022 fiscal year.  Whether it will be in the final budget is anybody’s guess.

The City Council discussed the step plan at length at the work session but made no decision, despite the fact that the council is scheduled to pass the 2021-2022 budget on June 15.

Councilmember Sharon Hightower has been pushing for a step plan for years. A consensus of the council has asked to look at the figures for what it would cost, but not that it be placed in the manager’s recommended budget.

The cost for this year is about $100,000 according to City Manager David Parrish.  The budget doesn’t move many employees to the step plan this year, which makes the $100,000 figure somewhat deceptive. 

Currently city employees receive merit raises based on their evaluations.  Under the step plan employees at the same step would receive the same raises regardless of performance.

What makes the indecision by the City Council puzzling is that, according to an employee survey, the employees oppose the step plan by a more than a two-to-one margin.  The City Council likes to talk about input from stakeholders, which in this care would be city employees.

However, a survey of city employees showed that 54 percent of those responding were in favor of the current merit pay system. Only 25 percent were in favor of implementing the step plan and 21 percent had no preference.

Assistant City Manager Larry Davis said that 462 employees responded to the survey request, and he added that for a survey of this type that is considered a good response.

Councilmember Justin Outling said that the city should be “looking to create a culture of excellence.”  About the proposed step plan he said, “For those high performing employees, it gives them encouragement to go to another city where their work will be rewarded.”

Councilmember Goldie Wells questioned whether the workers out in the streets were made aware of the survey.

The consensus of the council was to put off making any decision and wait for more survey results.