City of Rifle increases employee pay scales |

City of Rifle increases employee pay scales

Rifle City Hall.
Ray K. Erku/Post Independent

Rifle City Council and staff Wednesday recommended the city allocate $157,000 to integrate a new pay structure for part-time and full-time employees. 

In Spring, the Rifle City Council hired Tulsa, Oklahoma-based human resources firm Graves Consulting to perform a study to see how to best financially compensate and reward Rifle city employees.

Rifle’s current pay structure is implemented on a step basis — that is, employees receive a fixed raise every year for five years. Additional raises didn’t come until an employee worked 10, then 15, then 20 years for the city.

The new pay structure expands the steps from five years to nine.

Once fully implemented, current full-time employees will see their wages raised to match the increased step in the pay structure. 

According to city documents, full-time staff receiving a raise less than $1,000 above their current pay are to receive a bonus covering the difference. Meanwhile, all year-round part-time employees receive a $500 bonus no matter what, Graves Senior Consultant Eric Marburger said.

The average pay increase among all Rifle employees under the new structure is $1,302.

“It can be really rewarding to have your manager come up to you on a Friday and give you a $500 check and say, ‘That project was outstanding. It’s gonna save us 10 times this, thank you,’” he said.

The proposal, approved unanimously by Rifle City Council during regular session Aug. 17, is expected to kick in sometime in October.

The lowest scale city government employee can make anywhere between $33,280 and $44,881 in yearly salaries. The highest is $132,988 to $179,344.

Employee wages will not only reflect the increase to steps at that time, they’ll receive an additional performance-based raise in January, Rifle Human Resources Manager Danielle Hogan said.

This new wage spectrum also establishes incentive payments to reward employees for exceptional performance, City Manager Tommy Klein said Friday.

Changing pay tactics comes at a time when Rifle’s employee turnover rate, on average, has sat anywhere between 14% and 16% over the past five years, Hogan said. In particular, hiring efforts for the Rifle Police Department have seen less applicants over time.

Rifle Police Chief Deb Funston said hiring issues are partly based on public perceptions but that larger departments are paying higher wages, thus creating stiff competition for new hires. 

“Seattle pushed it out,” she said. “They’re giving $30,000 bonuses.”

Marburger said steps in the new pay structure are larger at the beginning of one’s career, then slow down toward the end, both for sworn police officers and general government scales. 

“The theory being, if you’re hired at minimum — or step A — that’s where we could lose you to somebody paying more because you’re not at the market rate yet,” he said. “So let’s give you a couple of nice bumps to get you up to the market, right?”

Only up until recently were new Rifle police officers being offered a base wage higher than $57,000. The new police pay scale offers $61,100 minimum wage, with a maximum $83,541. A sergeant can make up to $98,718.

Rifle City Council agreed the restructuring is a good answer to boosting its retention levels. It’s also a good way to reward the city’s longtime employees.

The only main concern they expressed fell on the ability to afford it. Council member Sean Strode asked to see how the new $157,000 implementation would affect future city budgets.

“I absolutely support employees,” he said. “But I want to make sure that we can fund it.”

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