Your Jordan City Council voted on Aug. 5 to spend up to $9,000 to hire a consultant to conduct a survey about whether Jordan’s salary structure is competitive with other cities. They chose a Chicago-based firm called Baker Tilley, part of a three-way combination with municipal advisory firms H.J. Umbaugh and Associates and Springsted Inc.

Bringing some serious firepower to our little town — though I suppose only the Minneapolis regional office will be involved.

Right out of the chute, it doesn’t matter if a city’s wage structure is competitive or not. What matters is if the city has a finite amount of money to spend on wages. Most, do indeed have finite resources, though I suppose you could say some cities’ resources are less finite than others.

In my opinion, it doesn’t matter if New Prague or Belle Plaine or Carver pays more for comparable positions. What matters is what Jordan can afford.

Now, going in a little bit different direction, I found there are at least two sources available online providing wage comparison information for virtually every job classification in the state. Here are a few small samples from the State of Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development for the community and social services occupations:

In southeastern Minnesota the percentiles for hourly payment for 4,390 jobs are:

Mean: $23.87

10th percentile: $12.51

25th percentile: $16.90

Median: $22.85

75th percentile: $29.92

90th percentile: $37.07

Looking at all Minnesota, for 57,870 jobs, we see hourly payment of:

Mean: $23.96

10th percentile: $13.76

25th percentile: $17.42

Median: $22.73

75th percentile: $29.55

90th percentile: $37.07

Looking at the entire U.S., for 2,171,820 jobs we see:

Mean: $24.10

10th percentile: $12.97

25th percentile: $16.58

Median: $22

75th percentile: $29.55

90th percentile: $38.52

For $650 the city can get a survey from the League of Minnesota Cities. Here’s a quote from the League of Minnesota Cities’ website: “The Minnesota Local Government Salary & Benefit Survey includes data from cities and counties across the state (Metro and Greater Minnesota). The purpose of the salary survey program is to facilitate the exchange of information among elected officials and to assist administrative staff in the management of compensation and benefit plans in participating organizations.”

Incidentally, those sites are funded by your taxes. Do you really want to pay again to have a consultant recreate that information?

Whether a wage comparison survey is needed for whatever reason, is not the point. And $9,000 is small potatoes in the city’s budget – easily covered in the “unallocated” slush fund. But one might ask, exactly why do we pay a city administrator $98,682, according to 2015 figures and the finance manager $76,729, according to 2015 figures if they have to hire a consultant to manage the pay scale? What skill, credential, or equipment do they lack, that prevents them from simply culling information from readily available online sources?

If the council wants to spend money to make sure employees are happy, why not just give every employee a slice of that $9,000 pie? That would at least keep some of the money in Jordan.

“It’s easy being a humorist when you’ve got the whole government working for you.” -Will Rogers

Thom Boncher is a retired marketing communications manager, former Jordan City Council member, and Jordan resident since Valentine’s Day, 2003.


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