Consultants: West U May Need to Raise Salaries

In order to recruit and retain city employees, the city of West University Place should consider raises of three to 15 percent, consultants advised the City Council during a special meeting Friday morning.
“The Houston economy is so hot, we need to do everything we can to attract and keep our city employees,” said West U City Manager Michael Ross.
The study, which the council included in the current 2014 budget, compared West U’s salaries with 23 other comparable Texas cities, and found that West U needs to become more competitive to find quality employees.
Mayor Bob Fry explained that the special meeting was “an informational meeting. The idea was to have everybody benefit before we get into the budget process.”
The city council will begin considering a new budget for fiscal year 2015 in mid-September.
Lori Messer, of Fox Lawson & Associates, explained that the consultants are recommending that West U set its salaries at 75 percent of the market. She explained that means that only 25 percent of cities would pay their employees more than West U.
Messer said that minimum raises of three percent and maximum raises of 15 percent would cost the city of West U approximately $348,000, about 5.3 percent of the city’s payroll.
Messer said that the city of West U compares very favorably when it comes to employee benefits, such as retirement pay and health insurance.
However, the consultants recommended that “given the City’s goal to be an employer of choice,” the council may want to consider increasing annual sick leave, and changing its recruitment strategies by raising employee salaries.
The council took no action on the proposals, and Ross said the recommendations will be considered when deliberations on the fiscal year 2015 budget begin.