The City of Kodiak pays less than 12 other comparable communities in 37 of 48 jobs studied recently by the firm Halcyon Consulting.
In an attempt to increase employee retention and attract potential workers, the City of Kodiak opted into a workers compensation study conducted by Halcyon Consulting that compares Kodiak to 12 other municipalities with similar populations and geography.
The result? Halcyon recommended that the city consider raising the salaries of some of its employees.
Kodiak has a turnover rate of around 22%, mostly in the largest departments such as public works, emergency medical services and the police and fire departments, Deputy City Manager Josie Bahnke said. It currently employs 137 full-time and nine part-time workers and is looking to hire six full-time workers, according to Bahnke.
Even though the city generates more tax revenue than nine of the other 12 communities studied, the starting wage for City of Kodiak employees is, on average, $1 to $2 less than the average starting wage in other communities, the study found. All of these numbers are adjusted to the cost of living in Kodiak.
Many of the Kodiak jobs that received comparably low salaries to the rest of the state are first responders. Firefighter EMTs and officers in the police department, including sergeants and lieutenants, and public safety dispatchers are included in this group, the study found.
“It’s important to remember, this is only one component of (the) compensation package,” said Jonathan King, the principal in charge of the study, at the City Council Work Session on Tuesday where he presented the findings. “It’s really critical to remember that. Because if you were to look at these slides, you would say, ‘(The city is) on the bottom end of pay, in terms of wages. (It’s) down there,’ but that’s not the whole picture.”
The City of Kodiak offers a much more extensive health care plan than most of the other communities surveyed, King said. The City of Kodiak is one of two entities in the study that do not charge monthly premiums for employees and their spouses and families. On top of that, the insurance policy offered by the city includes dental, vision, prescriptions and audio insurance. The City of Kodiak does not offer disability insurance, but only three of the 13 communities studied do. All three of those areas require their employees to pay to add spouses and family members onto their health insurance.
This may be more appealing to people with families, as opposed to young adults, King said.
In addition to competitive health care benefits, the City of Kodiak offers more paid time off than 10 of the communities surveyed, the study found. In any given year, an employee has between 28-41 days of paid time off, including sick days and holidays, Halcyon reported.
These numbers are not perfect, King clarified at the City Council’s Work Session. The study looked at ranges of pay and did not take into account tenure of employees nor how qualifications differ in the different communities. In addition to this, none of the communities can be compared on a one-to-one basis. For example, one of the 13 communities studied is Valdez, which has an oil-based economy and therefore is able to pay its employees significantly more than other communities studied, King said at the work session.
Even though wages do not paint the whole picture, the study stated that, if the city wants to be a more competitive employer it should raise the wages for many of its job positions.
This is not the only action that the city is taking to increase worker retention; Bahnke and the city’s Human Resource Manager Nanci Sharratt have been revising job descriptions and personnel regulations to reduce redundancy in employment.