The Carrboro Town Council authorized an increase in Town employees’ salaries at its meeting on Sept. 20.
The decision follows a compensation and classification study from the Town, which recommended a wage adjustment to keep up with competition from similar jurisdictions, a Sept. 21 Carrboro press release said.
On Oct. 8, the implementation date, there will be a 2 percent pay raise in starting salaries and internal pay adjustments for all permanent Town employees.
“I have no doubt that this pay raise will help the Town be more competitive and in our efforts to continue to recruit and retain really top employees in all of the Triangle,” Carrboro Mayor Pro Tem Susan Romaine said.
The study, conducted by Management Advisory Group, Inc., compared Town positions to 20 government employers in North Carolina and received input from all 91 positions in the Town. MAG concluded the Town’s average salary falls behind its peers by 7.5 percent and this difference in pay contributed to labor shortages in the town.
The competing labor markets in larger towns and cities, such as Raleigh and Apex, are difficult for a small town like Carrboro to keep up with, Mayor Damon Seils said. After the pay increase is implemented, Seils said Carrboro’s salaries for its Town employees will more closely compare with these larger districts.
“We need to get into a habit as an organization of doing these pay studies every few years, so we don’t get behind,” Seils said.
Echoing Seils, Carrboro Human Resources Director Julie Eckenrode emphasized the difference between Carrboro and larger cities.
“Carrboro’s just a really special place to work,” Eckenrode said. “You just get this really nice, tight-knit work community that you’re not going to get at the bigger places.”
The two percent pay adjustments are a baseline and many employees will receive larger increases depending on how their position compares to similar positions elsewhere in the state.
To ensure workers are getting paid fairly for the time spent in their position, 42 employees will receive raises to their minimum salaries and 59 employees will receive internal pay adjustments.
Carrboro is a certified living wage employer, meaning the Town pays its permanent employees enough to keep up with the standard of living. A living wage in Orange County translates to $15.85 per hour, or $14.35 if their employer pays for at least half of their health insurance, according to Orange County Living Wage.
Recertification with Orange County Living Wage occurs every two years, and the Town needed to raise salaries in order to do so, according to Romaine.
“We also want to be providing as many opportunities as we can for those employees who are working here to also be able to afford to live here or at least live close to Carrboro,” Romaine said.
Due to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Romaine said there was no pay raise for Town employees in the 2020-2021 fiscal year. During the 2021-2022 fiscal year, there was a small across-the-board increase.
A compensation and classification study was conducted several years ago, but the recommendations from that study were not implemented due to budgetary pressures, according to Romaine.
“We were lagging,” she said. “It’s one thing to have the study, and we recognized that several years ago we were lagging, but we weren’t in the position to implement the recommendations.”
On July 1, Town employees received a $3,000 flat raise after the Carrboro Town Council passed the budget for the 2022-2023 fiscal year.
The implementation of the compensation study, beginning Oct. 8, will put Town employees at a comparable salary to other similar governmental entities, Romaine added in an email.
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