In the past, recruitment and retention of government employees was never a major issue, especially during the cyclical downturns in the economy. However, we are now living during unique times, and this is no longer the case.
Over the years, we have made changes along with, and in response to, these occasional cycles. A few years ago, we adjusted the pay for our first responders, recognizing the recruitment being done by outside fire service agencies. Another adjustment was to offer an enhanced work schedule for Fire/Rescue Department employees. Our law enforcement professionals have also received adjusted pay levels to bring them in line with other local agencies.
It is a proven fact that employers will spend more to recruit and train new employees than they would to raise the compensation and benefit packages of their valued employees in order to keep them.
Recognizing this, on May 2 city staff made a presentation to council to deal with the challenges facing our employees and the composition of the city team. Assistant City Manager Casey Lucius presented a plan to councilors to address these issues during the recent council meeting.
The comprehensive game plan would take the city though the end of the year and included funding methods. Lucius pointed out that Collier County has the second highest cost of living expense in the state. She presented figures from local sources reflecting a 28% increase in rent prices from October 2020 to November 2021.
In an effort to retain employees, the City of Marco Island is looking at the short term to implement the following strategies.
Proposed weekly gas stipend of $50 per week for employees who live off-island, make under $70,000 and do not have a take-home vehicle. Implement for six months.
Proposed longevity pay:
For 5 years of service – one payment of $1,000.
For 10 years of service – one payment of $2,000.
For 15 years of service – one payment of $2,500.
For 20+ years of service - one payment of $3,000.
Currently evaluating departments that can offer remote work 1-2 days per week, ensuring rotation of personnel with presence on site.
Implemented a new salary schedule beginning April 1. This brought 33 employees to the new minimum of their grade. Will make salary adjustments for 99 employees on October 1, 2022, this is in accordance with the new salary ranges and with the City Council budget approval.
Implemented several ideas from an employee focus group following the employee survey, including monthly Lunch and Learns, quarterly new employee orientation, salary adjustments, and employee recognition.
The city’s Executive Staff forwarded along a plan to cover these temporary actions, so as not to impact the 2021-2022 budget.
Cost and Funding Longevity Pay would impact 88 employees and be funded as follows:
General fund reserves: $58,000.
Building Department reserves: $13,000.
Water & Sewer Department reserves: $92,000.
A Gas Stipend would impact 120 employees and be funded as follows:
General fund reserves: $88,000.
Building Department reserves: $8,400.
Water & Sewer Department reserves: $46,800.
The Executive Staff recommended, and council approved, the immediate implementation of the gas stipend for employees making less than $70,000 and live off-island. The one-time longevity bonuses are to be implemented June 1.