Raises keep St. Charles salaries competetive with private sector

Published 12:00 am Friday, November 28, 2008


Staff Reporter

HAHNVILLE — The St. Charles Council voted to approve an updated civil service pay plan that includes cost of living raises for most parish jobs.

The new rates, which were approved unanimously at a recent council meeting, are based on a compensation study of surrounding parishes conducted by the Archer Group over the past year.

St. Charles Public Information Officer Renee Allemand-Simpson said the parish is budgeted to spend $23.3 million on payroll for 2009, which is up from the $21.2 million spent last year. The new pay plan calls for a 3.9 percent raise for parish employees, along with merit raises as much as 4 percent. Allemand-Simpson said the new rates and benefits will cost the parish an additional $1.1 million per year.

Parish President V.J. St. Pierre said the boost in pay is necessary in order to keep St. Charles Parish competitive with private industry. He said the private sector, which offers higher pay but less rewarding benefits, has lured away a considerable number of employees with construction-related skills in recent years.

He said the pay scale changes should also help the parish avoid higher turnover margin and allow veteran employees to become eligible for merit pay. He said about 70 percent of the roughly 300 employees working in St. Charles Parish have reached the limit of what they can be paid in their job classifications. This means that their salaries could only rise if a cost-of-living increase were approved.

Tim Vial, St. Charles chief administrative officer, said the results of the study would cost about $155,000 to put into motion, but he said the parish would end up spending more in the long run because each class’ top rate would rise as well.

According to parish figures, under the new plan, most blue-collar parish jobs will see starting salaries rise by an average of 15 percent. Notable changes include equipment operators, whose salaries are up from $9.42 and hour to $11.14, and pump mechanics, who will see a raise to $17.06 and hour, up from $14.21.

The raises go into affect Jan. 1, 2009, when the operating budget for the new year takes effect. The budget was also unanimously approved at the meeting.