By Mike McKibbin/NewsBreak Denver | June 28, 2022
[DOUGLAS COUNTY, COLO.] Douglas County employees will see a 4% salary hike in their July paychecks, plus a $200 monthly stipend through the end of the year.
The county commissioners unanimously approved a mid-year adjustment Monday that will help make county salaries market competitive, according to county officials.
The monthly stipend will apply to employees earning $80,000 a year and under and sheriff's deputies between tiers one and seven.
The adjustment and an earlier 3.5% increase erased a 3.4% lag behind market salary rates. Human Resources Director Laura Leary said the county used salary rates published in an April Denver Business Journal article.
"This is not about prices or inflation," she told the commissioners. "It's about being market competitive."
Leary presented figures showing public and private wage growth between February 2021 and February of this year in the Denver region was 5.7%. Boulder came in at 6.5%, Colorado Springs was 8.5%, while Douglas County employees had only a 3.5% increase.
The county's adjustment will be effective as of June 21 and reflected on employees' July 31 paychecks.
The normal merit raise process will continue in January.
Costs covered by existing funds
The cost of the mid-market adjustment for the rest of this year is $2.1 million, the stipends will total $1.1 million, and the cost of county benefits will increase by $711,000.
The money for this adjustment will come from one-time vacancy savings and fund balances.
Next year, the 4% increase will cost the county $4.2 million and benefits $930,000. That money will come from $2 million in new construction revenue, vacancy savings and fund balances.
Employee retention should improve
"I like the fact that this will help us be competitive when it comes to retaining our quality employees," said Commissioner Abe Laydon.
Leary said the county will closely monitor market rates and present updated information to the commissioners in August.
This April, Leary recommended the commissioners approve a 3% pay raise effective May 1 for end-of-June paychecks. That would have cost the county $2.5 million the rest of this year and $3.9 million next year.
However, the commissioners held off and voiced concerns about the timing of the primary election, how inflation and the national economy might change and whether that amount would make a difference to individual paychecks.
Other county elected officials also lobbied the commissioners to increase salaries in May. They expressed concerns about losing employees, few job applicants and a possible need to cut services to the public.