The committee’s call for creation of full-time audit and compensation committees got thumbs down from County Manager David Hankerson who dismissed the proposal as unnecessary. The county audit division manager, Latona Thomas, said steps have been taken for outside reviews and what’s needed is new employees to make up for staff cuts in recent years. Hankerson said compensation committees typically are used by corporate boards for oversight on the pay of top executives and thus not the entire workforce.
However, Hankerson warmed to the citizen committee’s suggestion that the commissioners retain an outside consultant to study the county’s compensation packages at an estimated cost of $350,000, as the Journal reported last week. He asked the BOC to consider taking that step and said if it was approved then a temporary outside committee could be set up to review the study while it was underway.
Commission Chairman Tim Lee also liked the idea, saying the county should move ahead with a request for proposals for the consultant’s study. He said that five or six years ago there was an agreement that such a study should be done regularly “to keep competitive, to keep our positions and our programs and our compensation packages competitive, so that we don’t lose good folks.” He added, “We need to find where the market is now. It’s changed considerably over the last couple of years.”
Lee wants to “keep competitive” in salaries and benefits to avoid losing good employees, noting that the job market has changed in recent years. He’s right. But the biggest change during the Great Recession has been millions of jobs lost, including tens of thousands here in Cobb. So it will be informative to see if comparable government jobs in other counties are paying more or less now than Cobb.
But why should this county — which has had to plug huge budget deficit holes by cutting back on services at libraries, senior centers, parks and other line items — be spending more than a third of $1 million for a compensation study?
Here’s a recommendation for the Board of Commissioners: Simply send out a questionnaire to your peer counties, for example, Gwinnett, Fulton and DeKalb, and ascertain their respective pay scales, benefits – the compensation packages. Or check their budgets. That would provide comparative information close to home and show how competitive Cobb is when it comes to employee compensation. And the best part is that the cost would be probably less than $10 for postage — or zero if email is used — compared to that whopping $350,000 study by an outside consultant.
How many jobs would that money provide for Cobb? Not to mention the number of raises for deserving employees that could be funded by $350,000.
Another study by an outside consultant is the last thing this county needs.