Columbia Council OKs management salaries

January 13, 1995|By Adam Sachs | Adam Sachs,Sun Staff Writer

The Columbia Council approved nine new salary ranges last night for about 37 Columbia Association management positions that would permit higher salaries for almost all of the jobs.

The new salary ranges -- which include minimum and maximum salaries for positions arranged by responsibility -- will take effect with the 1995-1996 association budget year, which begins May 1.

In some cases, the new maximum salaries in scales for association managers will exceed current maximums by about $10,000 or more.

The council also heard divided testimony from five residents on its proposal to develop a $1.4 million recreational vehicle storage facility.

Several residents criticized the deal with the Rouse Co. to buy land for $1 million as an unnecessary project. The Rouse Co., in exchange, would place more properties under the association's annual levy.

Others said Columbia needs a recreational vehicle storage yard to help residents comply with the town's architectural guidelines.

Until last night, the council had not discussed publicly the consultant's salary study which it commissioned in 1993. The 40-page report by William M. Mercer Inc., comparing the association management's salary ranges to comparable jobs in government, private industry and nonprofits, also was not made public until last night.

The council voted to suspend its procedural rules to allow a vote on adopting the consultant's recommendations for the higher salary ranges. Usually, the council's agenda items are introduced during one meeting, and scheduled for a vote for a subsequent meeting.

The council denied The Sun's repeated requests for the study to be released publicly. The report, which cost about $28,000 and evaluated positions ranging from CA's president to its Swim Center director, has been reviewed several times by the council over the past few months in private sessions.

"[Compensation study] committee members put in a considerable amount of time on this," said the subcommittee's chairwoman, Councilwoman Evelyn A. Richardson of Dorsey's Search village. "The people of Columbia got their money's worth out of us."

Ms. Richardson said she recommended the study several years ago because residents would ask about the private, nonprofit association's personnel costs and salary increases at budget hearings.

The association, which has 180 full-time employees, charges Columbia property owners annually to manage recreational facilities, run community programs and maintain parkland.

"Many people would imply that we were paying too much," she said. "I wanted to find out if that was the case, although I was confident we were not."

The consultant concluded: "With few exceptions, the current salaries paid to CA's officers are reasonably similar to and in line with 50th percentile (average) market salary rates."

Councilwoman Norma Rose of Wilde Lake village, the lone board member to vote against the new salary structure, said CA's current management salary ranges seem appropriate.

Councilman Chuck Rees of Kings Contrivance village abstained, saying the study was too limited in scope.

"I feel we're highly competitive with the most comparable sector, the public sector," Ms. Rose said.

She said CA's low management turnover rate is "evidence we're very competitive. I see no reason to make the extensive changes proposed."

But Councilman Gary Glisan expressed concern that CA could find that it isn't so competitive if key managers leave and the organization has trouble attracting quality personnel.

"I'm not willing to say everything is fine, [the consultant] did a good job, let's throw it out," said the Oakland Mills village representative.

Ms. Richardson said the council should consider expanding on the consultant's report with future studies of CA's benefit packages and its nonmanagement salary scales.

The council also should review the newly adopted management salary ranges periodically to ensure they match well with the market, she said.

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