The new programs for Pearland were a new step pay program with a 25% tenure cap for city workers, an increase for the civil service police pay plan, a sick leave buyback plan and a bilingual position certification pay.
“It was an expensive part of our budget, but it showed a commitment that City Council and our upper staff are committed to the employees of our cities,” Pearland Mayor Kevin Cole said.
About every four years, Pearland does a compensation and class study in which the city is compared to other ones across the state based on the various jobs from police and fire to city workers, Cole said. A part of the study looks at how aligned the compensation plans are with other cities, he added.
“The comp and class study that we just completed showed that, kind of, across the board we were behind, and so with this budget, still with the tax rate decreased, we were able to present almost 100% of our employees getting to 100% of the market rate [pay],” Cole said.
With the 25% cap, city employees in tenured positions can have their pay increase as the years progress by up to as much as 25% of what their starting pay was, he added.
Of the approximately 850 city employees in Pearland, about 30 of them were not brought up to their market value with the new step-pay program, Cole said. The city will look to bring them to market value next fiscal year, he added.
Under the FY 2021-22 budget, City Council also allocated an additional 0.5% of funds toward salaries on the civil service police pay plan for sworn police officers, which puts the Pearland Police Department ahead of the market average for sworn positions, according to agenda documents.
The city also implemented a sick leave buyback plan that will allow city employees to convert up to 40 hours recommended of their unused sick bank into cash, City Manager Clay Pearson said.
Additionally, Pearland officials hope the bilingual position certification pay program will provide support and compensation for the language skills brought by city staff, chief financial officer Amy Johnson said in an email.
“We want to make sure that we are in that [pay] market because if we’re not, good people will leave,” Cole said. “They’ll go to other communities, and we’ll become a training ground for other communities. I’d rather keep good, long-standing, tenured employees here.”