Whether or not the City of Greensboro will start implementing the “step” plan for employee compensation is still up in the air.

The step plan was on the agenda for the Tuesday, July 15 work session, but it was only discussed briefly and Mayor Nancy Vaughan prevented any decision.

Because no decision was made, Interim City Manager Chris Wilson said the step plan would be on the agenda for the Tuesday, July 19 City Council meeting.

The City Council traditionally doesn’t take votes during work sessions, but it does approve measures by straw votes or consensus.

The funding to implement the first phase of the step plan for city employees was included in the budget, but the City Council has never voted to approve changing from the current merit system of compensation to a step plan.

A step plan pays all the employees on the same step the same salary and all the employees on the same step receive the same raise regardless of performance.

Under the merit system that the city currently uses, supervisors determine the raises their employees receive within the approved range based on their evaluations. 

According to an anonymous survey done by the city’s Human Resources Department, city employees overwhelming prefer the merit system to the step plan.

According to that survey, 56 percent of the 645 employees who responded preferred the merit system while 22 percent preferred the step plan and 22 percent had no preference.

Despite the fact that the employees by a more than two-to-one margin prefer the merit system, there may be five votes on the City Council to approve the step plan.

During a budget work session, when the City Council considered the step plan Councilmember Yvonne Johnson was absent and the council split 4-4. 

At that work session on June 7, Vaughan and Councilmembers Justin Outling, Marikay Abuzuaiter and Nancy Hoffmann spoke against the step plan.

Councilmembers Sharon Hightower, Michelle Kennedy, Goldie Wells and Tammi Thurm spoke in favor. Hightower has been lobbying for the step plan for years but has never been able to get a majority of the City Council to support it.

Thurm’s support was conditional based on the assurance that the city could go back to the merit system after a year.

Abuzuaiter and Johnson were absent from the July 15 work session, which means if nobody changed their vote the step plan would have been approved by a 4-to-3 vote.

Despite some pressure to hold a straw vote and make a decision, Vaughan held firm in delaying any action until next week.