SALISBURY – A study of Wicomico County’s salaries and benefits have revealed the county is behind the market in minimum and average salaries, but on par with the market in maximum salaries and benefit offerings.
In a Wicomico County Council meeting Tuesday, Lorraine Kituri, a senior strategist with the Singer Group, presented county officials with findings and recommendations of a market study on Wicomico County’s salaries and benefits.
“The goal was to ensure pay was equitable, fair, and competitive based on who your market was,” she said.
The study surveyed all county positions – except the circuit court, sworn officers with the Wicomico County Sheriff’s Office and the Wicomico County State’s Attorney’s Office – to determine what county employees make in comparison to other counties and agencies in its market. The Singer Group, for example compiled information from Cambridge, Ocean City, Peninsula Regional Medical Center, University of Maryland Eastern Shore, and various airports and detention centers in surrounding counties. In addition, the group acquired data from Calvert, Carroll, Cecil, Dorchester, Queen Anne’s, Somerset and Talbot counties.
The study showed that the starting and average salaries for Wicomico County employees fall behind the market, or below 5 percent of what the market is paying. Specifically, salaries for non-exempt employees, those entitled to overtime pay, were more behind the market than exempt employees.
“Even though you can see an average position being behind the market, it doesn’t mean that all the positions in the county were behind,” Kituri said. “There were some that were ahead of the market. This was just an average.”
In addition, the maximum salary for county positions were either ahead of or at market.
“There were one or two exempt positions that were way ahead of the market, but there were also some that were further down the market,” she said.
While minimum and average salaries were behind the market, Kituri said Wicomico County’s benefit offerings were on par with market trends.
“We would not recommend that you adjust your benefits,” she said.
Kituri did, however, recommend the county adjust their pay structure and re-title 14 county positions to be more competitive in the market.
Councilman John Hall applauded the study, but questioned if the county’s salaries and benefits were competitive.
“In your opinion, do you think we are in a good position?” he said.
Kituri said the county had made an effort to improve compensation since its last study in 2005.
“I do think efforts and steps have been taken by the county to give increases where and when you could …,” she said. “Is it where it needs to be? No. Could we see steps have been taken to get people where they should be? Yes.”
Councilman Joe Holloway asked Kituri what potential employees were looking for in a job.
“What seems to be the driving force now as far as hiring?” he said. “Is it more the salary or benefits?”
Kituri replied that many younger individuals prioritized salary, while older individuals prioritized benefits.
“I wish I had a straight answer for you, but it really depends on the life cycle of the individual,” she said.
Hall questioned what the county should do with the study.
“Where do we go from here?” he said. “What is the county’s position?”
Council President John Cannon said, “I think it’s for the (county) executive and the staff to review and see exactly how they need to make the adjustments,” he said.