PENTICTON - The regional district isn’t competitive when it comes to paying managerial salaries, which makes it harder to attract key people, the board of directors has heard.
Three of the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen's seven top managerial positions are currently or are soon to be vacant.
The financial officer’s position has been vacant since late last year, and recent recruitment efforts were unsuccessful in attracting a candidate.
The public works manager position will soon be vacant with the imminent departure of Roger Huston and the development services manager will also be open as current manager Donna Butler plans to retire.
The board adopted an internal compensation policy in 2014 that used the HAY plan, a recognized compensation program with a point rating system based on 10 pay classification levels, with most regional district managers' pay rates sitting at levels six or seven, chief administrative officer Bill Newell told the board.
An external survey of exempt compensation salaries was initiated for the first time in 2013, resulting in an injection of $80,000 to boost exempt compensation salaries at that time. Policy dictates an external survey every three years.
“We don’t want to lead, but we need to be competitive,” Newell said, adding the results for the 2016 external survey were put before the board a few weeks ago.
The 2016 survey defined current salary ranges for most regional district managers sitting in classification six and seven at $86,802 to $96,036 and $96,082 to $106,304 respectively. Proposed salary increases would amount see those classifications rise to $95,724 and $104,943 in 2017.
Newell said this year’s salary shortfall amounted to $76,778, adding there was no room in the 2017 budget for an increase.
Contingency funding in the amount of $50,000 was included in the budget, however, and the remaining funds could be taken from wage savings resulting from the current and soon to be vacant positions.
Penticton director Helena Konanz expressed concerns the board was constantly playing "catch up" with respect to salaries, saying the regional district was “shooting itself in the foot,” stealing employees from each other's organizations and driving up salaries. She suggested a discussion with Union of B.C. Municipality members to put everyone on equal footing.
Area “D” director Tom Siddon cited the need to deal with current market conditions in the short term.
“We have to face market realities. We can’t afford to fall behind,” he said.
Penticton director Judy Sentes expressed concerns about the downtime the vacancies caused.
“We’re into the second round for hiring a finance manager, we need ability and capacity and we need them now. If we don’t pay, we won’t get the people,” she said.
Princeton director Frank Armitage noted $76,000 spread amongst 14 positions wasn’t a lot of money, adding the district had to be competitive.
The board agreed to allow Newell the authority to bring exempt position salaries into compliance with the board’s exempt compensation philosophy and procedure, with directors Helena Konanz and Andrew Jakubeit opposed.
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