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Council accepts City employee compensation report
Soiseth: Policy discussion to come later
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The Turlock City Council accepted a report Tuesday that compares the salaries and compensation packages of 65 City employee positions with 11 other agencies.

While the study was prompted by a promise made to the City’s employees and bargaining groups by the Council in 2014, Mayor Gary Soiseth made it clear that Tuesday’s meeting was about accepting the report and “the time and place for the policy discussion and what we do with those numbers will come later.”

The study found that on average, the City is 10.06 percent below the labor market median when calculating base salary and 2.82 percent above the labor market median when calculating total compensation.

The City’s fire and police departments have the most discrepancy between what the positions currently pay and the market median. A Fire Battalion Chief’s salary is 55.84 percent below market median and a Firefighter is 43.20 percent below median. A Senior Emergency Services Dispatcher is making 30.27 percent below the market median and Police Officer II positions are 23.79 percent below the median.

In other areas, the City is paying a significant amount above the market median, with a Finance Customer Service Supervisor making 30.13 percent above the market median, Legal Assistant at 28.13 percent above the median and Electrical/Mechanical Maintenance Supervisor at 18.15 percent above the median.

While the Council voted unanimously to accept the report prepared by CPS HR Consulting, there were a few questions brought up at Tuesday’s meeting.

Vice Mayor Bill DeHart questioned the study’s use of the market median, rather than the mean or average.

“While it’s been said that the average is the worst of the best and the best of the worst, there are just as many pitfalls using the median as there are if one was to use a mean or an average,” said DeHart.

Barbara Santos from CPS said because the City’s healthcare package differs from other agencies, it skews the mean more than the median. However, CPS did provide both the median and mean numbers to the Council in their full report.

Council member Matthew Jacob also questioned the cities and agency used as comparison in the study – Clovis, Davis, Elk Grove, Livermore, Lodi, Manteca, Merced, Modesto, Pleasanton, Tracy and the Livermore-Pleasanton Fire Department.

“One thing that I would like to get some more information on is the thought that went through when selecting the cities we compared to. I just did a quick search and Turlock’s median household income is about $51,000 and it looks like Pleasanton’s is $113,000, Livermore is $99,000. So, is it really prudent to compare ourselves to cities that have higher cost of living as well?” asked Councilman Jacob.

Santos replied that the median household income can be swayed if there are more earners in one household, which she said happens more frequently in places like Pleasanton. She said CPS also looked at places people would be willing to commute to for a job, to be more competitive and for every Pleasanton there is a Merced, which has much lower cost of living and wages.

The City of Turlock Total Compensation Report is available online at on the “Council Meetings” page.