CA budget draft includes $85,000 study of salaries

Fair-pay comparison was done 4 years ago


January 19, 2003|By Laura Cadiz | Laura Cadiz,SUN STAFF

The draft Columbia Association budget for the fiscal year beginning in May sets aside $85,000 for a compensation study to determine whether CA employees are fairly paid. But members of the association's board of directors have balked at that number.

"If it's $85,000 to do a salary survey, I just choked on that," board Chairman Miles Coffman said.

Noting that a thorough salary study was conducted four years ago, the board has decided to reduce the price and scale of the proposed study.

Board member Pearl Atkinson-Stewart of Owen Brown, who was the chairwoman of the compensation study committee four years ago, estimated at a budget work session Thursday night that a study to assess the pay of employees whose salaries may need to be adjusted would cost about $15,000 to $20,000.

The $85,000 in the current draft budget is based on the amount that the association spent on the study in 1999, when the pay of more than 200 full-time employees was examined, Atkinson-Stewart said.

Atkinson-Stewart said that after comparing CA salaries with those for similar positions in the Baltimore-Washington area, the study found some of the employees were not being paid at appropriate levels.

She said the board decided then that the study should be done again in three years.

The first study was overdue, she said.

Staff, spending climbs

The association's spending on staff salaries has increased steadily in recent years.

In 1999, the association paid $11 million for staff salaries and wages and has estimated it will pay $13.7 million in the current fiscal year.

In the draft 2004 budget, the association is estimating that the salaries and wages of almost 500 full-time equivalent employees will total $14.2 million, an amount roughly 29 percent higher than the 1999 payroll.

The association expects to add three employees next year.

Board member Barbara Russell of Oakland Mills said the staff salaries have "not only kept pace but exceeded what's happening in the market."

"I don't think we have to do something stupid because four years ago it was a good idea," she said.

Past directive

Rafia Siddiqui, CA's vice president for administrative services, pointed out that the staff wasn't necessarily pushing the compensation study. She said the study was in the budget - which the board will approve next month - because the staff was following a directive handed down by a past board.

CA President Maggie J. Brown pointed out that some employees are expecting another study because of that directive.

Rob Goldman, CA's vice president for sport and fitness, said a handful of "disgruntled employees" believe they are not in the correct salary category and are waiting for their positions to be re-examined.

"At a minimum, there's a half-dozen to a dozen people that we really need to spend the money on," Goldman said.

The CA board will hold a public hearing on the proposed budget at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at CA headquarters, 10221 Wincopin Circle.

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