Williamson County Commissioners Court has approved all new positions to be funded at 8% higher than the base in fiscal year 2023 to enable departments to be more competitive in candidate selection.

“We've got positions across the county that we're struggling to fill, and we've got existing employees that we've got to be mindful of not bringing in somebody that gets paid more than somebody that's been there a year or two,” Precinct 3 Commissioner Valerie Covey said.

The decision was granted based on a request by Senior Director of Human Resources Rebecca Clemons to consider funding new positions 5%-10% ahead of the budget process to keep the department competitive.

“I understand we are in extraordinary times in terms of hiring people,” Clemons said. “We are seeing salaries set at over the minimum.”

Clemens had requested the court consider changing the policy at its June 21 meeting.

But the court had asked her to come back with more context and compression numbers explaining how higher pay would affect current employees.

Pay compression is a compensation issue that develops between tenured employees and new hires when new hires join the company at compensation levels similar to longtime employees.

Commissioners were concerned about being fair to employees who were hired last year on salaries funded at the minimum when new hires would potentially receive an 8% higher salary.

“In theory, the person already in place, if they got a merit increase last year, and they received a merit increase this year, that hopefully would put them at the same or over what the new employee coming in would be making,” Clemens said.

According to Clemens, some offices may still hire at the current entry level, but having the option to offer 8% more would allow them flexibility during a tough recruiting time.

Currently, the budget policy states all new positions shall be funded at the minimum of the grade. Over the past 12 months, a few new positions have been funded at up to 15% over the grade due to the tight job market.

This 8% is attached to new positions and is expected to balance the need to attract new employees and retain existing employees without causing any compression issues.

The human resources department will include the approved recommendation and make it a part of the budget policy document that will come to the Commissioners Court for approval.