Letter: Inexperience creating county pay system can be detrimental

Published 8:15 pm Friday, March 16, 2018

According to the meeting notes on the Freeborn County website dated Feb. 27, “Staff presented on proposing to complete job re-classifications in house, ending the long-standing relationship with Bob Bjorklund. Board will be open to this change.” What exactly does that mean for the taxpayer of Freeborn County? Pay increases for employees that already make some of the highest paid salaries in Freeborn County? But wait, what about Bob?

Bob Bjorklund completed a compensation study for Freeborn County in the late ’90s and early 2000 and developed a pay system that had a grade and step process. County salaries are public information and can be viewed on the county website under the administration tab.

Freeborn County employees are compensated very well. Most are a grade nine through a grade 12.

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If the employee maxed out the scale, which can be done fairly quickly, these roles pay $50,906 for a grade nine all the way to $68,450 for a grade 12. Of all these salaries listed on the county website, the RNs and patrol deputies seem to be the only positions that are truly underpaid.

The spirit of Bob’s system is that it follows pay equity and ensures equal pay for equal work. This system also helps ensure that in the job classification process that a person is not only qualified based on work experience, but also qualified for the county position based on educational requirements.

What happened over the years is that the county board put off updating the pay system. Some of the job descriptions are old and outdated. Many of the staff have maxed out their pay scales. Does this mean that Freeborn County employees are underpaid? Absolutely not. The majority of the wages and salaries are off the charts compared to private sector employment.

Ask any seasoned HR person and he or she will tell you that writing job descriptions and creating compensation plans while following union protocols, equal employment, pay equity and more can be a very difficult process — unless you are educated in the process or have experience the field. Mr. Bjorklund obviously has this background and knowledge. Hopefully the board will recognize that inexperience in creating a pay system can be detrimental to Freeborn County taxpayers — so can pay increases for positions that do not warrant them. Pay our nurses more and pay our deputies more.

Allowing a team or a focus group without experience to rewrite job descriptions can cause inequality of those descriptions and unequal pay for work performed. This can also cause educational requirements to be ignored. They might as well just roll the dice. They are gambling with our money.

Sue Tasker