With 72 full-time town employees, salary data indicates that more than 10 percent have not received raises in at least three years.
According to records provided by the town, seven employees have not received a raise for nearly three years, and one employee hasn’t seen a raise since 2011.
In July 2012, a cost of living adjustment across nearly the entire staff provided a 2 percent raise to fire captains Goley Boggs and Edmond Brantley, Fire Chief Tim Guffey, Town Manager Seth Lawless, Town Engineer Fred Boone and purchasing agent James Quick, who haven’t seen a raise since then. Lawless’ salary is set by the town council. All the other employees are paid on a scale that outlines longevity steps for every position on the town’s organizational chart.
Detective Donald Ayscue has not been eligible for a raise since 2011, because his $72,000 salary is at the top of the town’s range for police detectives, according to Human Resources Director Suzanne Yeatts.
During the fiscal year 2014-2015, the town placed a hold on some employee’s pay increases, including both merit and cost of living raises, in an effort to curb the impact of a higher-than-normal debt mainly due to Knightdale Station Park project.
The only salary increases kept were longevity pay for employees who have worked with the town for more than five years. Employees could also receive a salary increase if they were promoted to a higher paying position.
Jan. 2014 was the last opportunity for a merit raise.
Every two years, the town conducts a salary study, where the base salary for every position is compared to similar sized towns and adjusted to be within 5 percent of the average range. Another study is expected to be completed this fiscal year. It’s unclear whether Ayscue would benefit from the findings of the salary study.
According to Lawless, the budget he plans to propose to the town council will include money for merit raises of up to 3 percent.
Adding more positions
At the town retreat in February, the council and staff discussed the employment forecast for the next three years, including adding eight positions by fiscal year 2017-2018.
Those positions include splitting the town clerk and assistant human resources manager positions this year, which are currently combined. Most of the other positions are for public safety expansion.
Lawless said that as the town grows, those extra positions are necessary.
Mayor Russell Killen added that it stretches the town financially to catch up with growth, with an 18-month lag in growth and actual tax funds.
“Staffing towns that are growing is extraordinarily difficult,” Killen said. “It’s a good problem to have, but we have to provide services to those people before we have the tax money from the people, leaving you running pretty thin.”