City of Colorado Springs / Human Resources / News

City Total Compensation and Classification Study Results
Friday, March 08, 2013

The City of Colorado Springs undertook a Total Compensation and Classification study that began in June of 2012. It had been over 14 years since the City organization invested in a comprehensive study of this magnitude, which evaluated the overall competitiveness of the employees’ total compensation package: including salaries, benefits and pay practices.

It is the City’s goal to be a governmental employer of choice by attracting, retaining, and motivating qualified employees by offering the best overall whole career experience that includes total compensation competitive to our defined market, is easily understood, and recognizes that we are fiscally-responsible, best-in-class stewards of our available resources. 

The study was conducted by the Waters Consulting Group who was selected through a competitive three month RFP process. Work on the study was governed by a policy making board referred to as the Compensation Study Advisory Team (CSAT). The CSAT was comprised of City Executives, a City Council member, employee associations, citizen stakeholders, and human resources staff.

The consultant and the CSAT extensively reviewed the City’s total compensation: including salaries, benefits and pay practices. Market salary data was collected from a set of benchmark organizations , based on criteria of the City’s Compensation Philosophy. For civilian comparisons, market salary data included both public and private sector organizations, which included a group of local large employers who participated in the survey. In addition, a set of “best in class” municipal governments were utilized for both civilian and sworn total compensation comparisons.The Study reviewed these total compensation elements for City civilian employees and sworn employees; Colorado Springs Fire and Colorado Springs Police.

The results of the study were presented in a draft report by our consultant, in February 2013. The report analyzed the data and made recommendations regarding a new civilian classification hierarchy (position structure), salary recommendations for both civilian and sworn personnel, as well as, benefits and pays practices recommendations.

Overall results for sworn police and fire employees show that their total compensation is slightly below market. The salary data and recommendations present a compelling case for salary increases for sworn, subject to City Council approval. City firefighters’ pay was found to lag the market and it is recommended they receive pay increases, depending upon rank, ranging from 3.6% to 11.4%, an average increase of 7.4%. City police officers’ pay was also found to lag the market and it is recommended they receive pay increases, depending upon rank, ranging from 3.9% to 9.5%, an average increase of 4.6%.  Sworn pay increases are proposed to take effect March 31, 2013.

Preliminary results for civilian employees (excludes sworn police and fire) on average show that their total compensation is slightly above the market.  However, no salary reductions will be recommended as a result of the study and those employee salaries above market will be frozen until the market catches up. However, there were several positions found to be under market with further analysis required.  Subsequently, final civilian results will be available after the City completes an independent review and assessment of the recommendations of the civilian classification hierarchy (position structure), which will be in time for the 2014 budget process.

The benefits and pay practices data and recommendations for both civilian and sworn personnel presented a compelling case for adjustments in both of those areas.

Benefits were found to be above the market for all workforces, primarily due to the City’s cost for the civilian and sworn pension plans. There have been changes made to the different pension plans over the past six years which will help the City control these costs going forward, however, significant legacy costs remain. In addition, the Mayor formed a Pension Solutions Team, with participation of business professionals, local CPAs, sworn associations, City Council members, and City Staff to study the City’s pension plans and make recommendations on actions to pursue to further control these costs.

Much like the pension plans, The City’s healthcare plan’s structure was proven to be above market; particularly in light of national healthcare reform.  Therefore, The City will also propose changes to the medical plan for 2014 to better align with the benchmark organizations and market trends.

Lastly, some pay practices were found to be more generous than those in place at many benchmark organizations and, as such, the City will recommend changes to pay practice policies to include Worker’s Compensation and Sick Leave incentives.

2013 costs for implementation of increased sworn police and fire salaries and modified benefits and pay practices is estimated at $4.3M compared to the approved budget of $2.2M; equating to a $1.3M appropriation the Mayor will request of City Council. Most of these costs will be offset in 2014 due to benefit cost reductions.

The Total Compensation Study results and recommendations will be presented to City Council at the Informal Meeting on Monday, March 11, and for approval at the Formal City Council Meeting on Tuesday, March 26.  Implementation of recommended changes is expected to take place April 1, pending City Council approval.

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