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Hendersonville considering another pay raise for employees

Hendersonville’s city council began considering another pay raise for its employees after hearing the results of a recent study.

“We need to raise our pay to remain competitive,” City Manager John Connet said Friday of the findings from a study presented to council at Thursday night’s regular meeting.
The study conducted by Evergreen Solutions found that when compared to salaries of employees from similar cities around the state, Hendersonville’s pay was close to average but not quite average.
Different options considering pay grades and length of employment in the study showed council how much it will cost to bring employees up to average and how much it would cost to bring employees into the 65th and 75th percentiles of employee pay in similar cities in the state and region.
Depending on which option the city might choose to increase employee pay, the cost of bringing Hendersonville employees up to competitive wages could cost between $458,098 and a little more than $2 million.
The problem for Hendersonville is that the cost of living is higher than in some of the areas taken into consideration in the study, which means the city might need to increase wages to a level higher than average to be competitive, Connet said.
Council members Lyndsey Simpson and Jennifer Hensley said during the meeting Thursday that they thought the council needed to raise wages higher than average.
“I feel like if we want to be competitive…we have no choice but to go for the 75th percentile,” Simpson said.
Council member Jerry Smith said he was trying to “soak it all in” but thought the 65th percentile might be a good option.
Mayor Barbara Volk said the council might also consider raising pay in phases beginning with the 65 percentile one year and the 75 percentile the next.
The study presented Thursday came about after the council in June raised employee pay by 10 percent in its new budget.
If council had not raised employee pay in the budget, the study would have found an even greater gap between city employee pay and the average pay of employees in the cities considered in the study, Connet said.
“We would have been much more behind,” he said.
For Hendersonville to be more competitive in recruiting and retaining employees, especially in public safety jobs, it needs to move more toward the 75th percentile wage options provided in the study, Connet said.
The city often sees employees either leave jobs or take jobs in Henderson County, Buncombe County and Asheville because wages are higher, he said.
The council plans to continue discussing and fine-tuning plans to increase employee pay during later meetings, Connet said.