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  • By Dana Casadei

Township compensation study results reviewed

Bloomfield Township Trustee Michael Schostak and the Segal Group’s Elliot Susseles and Cristy Reetz presented the results from the 2020 Compensation, Classification, and Staffing Study to the Bloomfield Township Board of Trustees at their meeting on Monday, July 13. “It’s been an interesting experience to say the least,” Schostak said at the beginning of the presentation. The study, the first of its kind in more than a decade for the township, addressed questions about employee recruitment and retention in light of budget reductions. It looked at staffing and workloads, position descriptions, compensation, benefits and job evaluations across the township's departments, including its elected officials, and compared them to several neighboring communities. Instances or appearance of conflicts of interest were also looked at, and guidance was provided for human resources and management staff. In September 2019, the board approved issuing a request for proposals from vendors to conduct the study. An ad-hoc compensation study committee was formed to develop specific components of the study and evaluate proposals. The committee, which recommended contracting with Minneapolis-based Segal Waters Consulting, now Segal Group, consisted of Schostak; township finance director Jason Theis; government consultant and financial advisor Bob Kittle; township resident and former Oakland County Deputy Executive of Economic Development and Community Affairs Tim Meyer; and resident and retired auto industry executive and consultant Paula Butler. In November, the board unanimously approved the contract with Segal to conduct the study following board dissension over staff pay, benefits and staffing levels. A kick-off call was made in early December, followed by two on-site meetings in January with the consulting group. The results were originally intended to be presented in June but due to the coronavirus pandemic the study took longer to complete than originally planned. With the coronavirus pandemic, several communities who had originally agreed to participate in the compensation survey chose not to be a part of the staffing survey. Of the 12 who participated in the compensation study, only seven provided answers for the staffing survey. Schostak told trustees this study would have long-term value for the township and give them staffing levels with performance metrics, and be an important tool to gain new talent and keep those already working for Bloomfield Township. The study included key objectives, project deliverables, market assessment, classification analysis, employee opinion survey, and staffing analysis survey. Overall, the township’s base salaries are average for salaries compared to peer public-sector employers, such as the city of Birmingham, Oakland County, and West Bloomfield Township, but their recent pay increases have been below market. While the average salary is 11 percent above the minimum average it is nine percent below the maximum average, right at the midpoint average. The township’s staff has been provided two percent increases each year for the last three years, which the survey indicated is a bit lower than average. Of the 65 benchmark job titles used – there were 72 in total, with 65 having sufficient data – 22 jobs are paid above market average, mostly in public safety. Nineteen were paid below market average and 24 are at market average. Compared to the private sector equivalent, Bloomfield Township is 12 percent below the midpoint. Compensation levels for the three full-time elected officials – supervisor, clerk, and treasurer – have staffs that are considerably smaller than other responding local municipalities, and each are paid higher than the market average but below the market maximums – at $205,217, $157,893, and $157,893, respectively. Bloomfield Townships trustees are paid $4,800, well below the $8,271 average. Across the majority of departments, the township does more work with fewer employees compared to their peers, according to the staffing analysis. Out of the 15 service areas listed, only senior services, cable, election, sworn fire, and planning, building and ordinance were at or above the average for staffing numbers, with everything else below. A total of 117 separate job titles were identified through the Job Description Questionnaire (JDQ) the Segal Group used. Through their classification analysis 104 titles were recommended. The survey had a 100 percent response rate from all 223 JDQs sent out to township staff. “We’re outperforming our peers in our level of productivity,” Schostak said. “At the end of the day, good quality people do that,” said township supervisor Leo Savoie. Township employees also completed a benefits opinion survey to highlight their top four benefits in terms of importance to them. Based on 114 anonymous responses to the survey, health insurance was considered the most important benefit for the majority, followed by vacation and leave policies, retirement benefits, and the compressed workweek. Bloomfield Township’s healthcare benefits are above market average. They cover a higher share of employee premiums and make HRA contributions at a high rate. The opinion survey also listed the top three reasons for why someone would want to work for Bloomfield Township, which was the quality and strength of the community, compressed workweek and perceived job security. Looking at the other side, top three reasons someone might want leave their job at the township included constituent/board tension, better retirement plans and better compensation elsewhere. Compared to others, the non-pension retirement plans are below the market average. The township’s average annual turnover for the last five years has been 1.7 percent, much lower when compared to the peer average of 5.9 percent. “It’s great to see based on the data that we seem to be pretty secure,” said trustee Dani Walsh. With the results in, the township will now work with Segal to rewrite all 110 job descriptions based on the results of the classification and staffing components of the study.

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