The majority of City of Woodstock employees will see an increase in pay, following the results of a recent compensation study.

The study, which was conducted by Evergreen Solutions, recommended that the city make changes to address compression, or longer-serving employees or those with more experience receiving similar pay to new ones. 

Changes to the pay system to implement the recommendations will be rolled out in two phases. Phase one is scheduled to take effect Nov. 7, the first day of the first November pay period.

Mayor Donnie Henriques told the Tribune the new system is important for the city to attract and retain good employees with competitive wages.

"We wanted to see if we were staying competitive with like municipalities and counties on our staff and how much they were making. We know we have good benefits, but we were concerned we were falling behind other cities of our size. So we did the study and it showed what we probably already knew," he said. "This is an effort to stay up with the times and retain our personnel."

Salary and benefit adjustments for the first phase total $344,734. The majority of the salary increases are going to the fire department, which received $123,412 in salary and benefits funding, followed by the police department, which received $62,399. Transfers from the city's general services fund were authorized by the mayor and council at their meeting Monday.

Under the new system, there are four pay plans: one for exempt or salaried employees, one for non-exempt hourly employees, and new plans for police and fire employees. For salaried employees, the step plan was changed to an open-range plan, in which there is a range of salaries at each pay grade.

Of 209 full-time and permanent part-time employees included in the study, 164 will receive "some sort of increase in Phase 1," said City Manager Jeff Moon. The increases vary for each position. The city manager was not part of the study and is not under consideration for an increase, he said.

Phase two will include 14 additional employees who are department directors, people in a newly created director position and assistant directors. Moon said the council will approve a second phase by the end of the year.

"It is yet to be determined if some, any or all of the 14 will receive an increase," the city manager said.

Those not receiving an increase are employees who had served less than a year as of July 1, who the study determined were being paid at a "market rate" and probationary employees, a total of 31 people.

Shannon is a reporter covering education, city governments, crime, features, religion and other local news. She is a graduate of Young Harris College and currently lives in unincorporated Woodstock.

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