SILVER LAKE — Village Council recently approved revisions to the pay grade schedule which will give raises to all 20 full-time employees starting in the new year.

With the changes unanimously adopted by council on Nov. 19, Village Clerk-Treasurer Sean Housley said employee salaries will increase anywhere from approximately $400 to $4,000, and by anywhere from about 1 percent to 10 percent starting Jan. 1, 2019.

The changes will cost the village an additional $22,000 in 2019, according to Housley. Mayor Bernie Hovey said the village previously spent approximately 39 percent of its budget on salaries and benefits. The changes made by council will increase that figure to about 40 percent, a difference that the mayor said he considers "negligible."

The mayor’s office and council offices are not receiving pay increases under this new compensation schedule, Housley said.

Hovey said he proposed the changes to "correct a salary schedule that I felt was not fair to our employees." He said the village has been losing employees to other communities mainly because the village has been offering a lower level of pay. 

"Most, if not all, of the employees who left [in the last several years], indicated that higher pay doing a similar job in another community was a prime reason for leaving," said Hovey. Since 2010, village employees had received cost-of-living pay increases in 2013 and 2017, according to Hovey, who added the village’s compensation levels have "fallen well below most other municipalities."

He noted the process of finding qualified people and training them "put an undue strain on our time and resources," and added that the revised pay grade schedule "will go a long way to correcting this situation."

Details of the changes

Hovey said the village employees’ previous pay grade schedule contained 16 separate steps for the workers. With the revisions adopted by council, those steps were reduced to 10 for rank and file employees, eight for police lieutenants and the assistant service director, and seven for the department leaders, according to Hovey.

In addition, Hovey said the first three steps of compensation on the schedule were eliminated so that newly hired employees will start at a higher pay rate than they would’ve received under the previous schedule.

Hovey noted the amended pay grade schedule also includes higher percentage pay increases for employees during their first four to five years on the job. He added that council will revisit and evaluate the pay grade schedule annually to determine whether any changes are needed.

"We’re still not on par with other communities in what we’re paying everybody, but we’re closer," said Hovey. "With giving them more money earlier and larger increases earlier, I think there’s a better chance we will retain employees."

Hovey also said the revised pay grade schedule guarantees an annual cost-of-living pay increase and gives the mayor’s office — instead of the personnel placement committee — the authority to grant yearly step increases.

Hovey said he was "very pleased" that council unanimously backed the pay grade schedule overhaul.

"It is but a first step, but a very big first step, one that has been well-received by our employees," Hovey said.

Solicitor receives pay increase

Village Council also unanimously approved a pay increase for Solicitor Robert Heydorn on Nov. 19. With the change, Heydorn’s annual salary will increase from $33,139.86 to $35,000 starting Jan. 1, 2019. The contract also stipulates that the mayor will make a recommendation for the solicitor’s salary in upcoming years and council will need to approve that change.

Heydorn, who has served as solicitor since 1996, thanked council for approving the new contract.

At a meeting earlier in November, Hovey noted that Heydorn is allowed to bill the village $150 per hour for services performed on the village’s behalf which are not covered by his contract.

"He [Heydorn] has never billed us for work he has done for the village that is outside the scope of his contract," the mayor said, adding, "I doubt any other municipal attorney can make the same claim."

Editor’s note: Reporter Ellin Walsh contributed to this story.

Reporter Phil Keren can be reached at 330-541-9421, pkeren@recordpub.com, or on Twitter at @keren_phil.