WARNER ROBINS -- The Warner Robins Police Department may have an assistant chief for the first time in at least 25 years if City Council approves a recommendation from the Carl Vinson Institute of Government to promote the citys only major.
The University of Georgia research group made the suggestion in response to 26 appeals of its original payroll study for the city. Researchers agreed with only eight of the other 25 appeals, but City Council will make the final call.
City Council solicited a job classification and salary study from the Carl Vinson Institute in an effort to balance salaries and eliminate discrepancies among city employees. The study set new pay grades, with corresponding salary ranges, and salaries for each city position based on a review of the position and its equivalent in similar cities statewide.
Council implemented the study in April. Twenty-six of the citys 506 employees appealed the studys decisions.
After reviewing each appeal, the Carl Vinson Institute recommended increasing nine pay grades, including police Maj. John Wagners.
Wagner argued in his appeal that the study didnt account for him taking on the responsibilities of the departments only other major, who retired two years ago.
Since Maj. Harry Dennard retired, Wagner is the highest ranking officer after Chief Brett Evans. Dennards position was dissolved to add more officers in the department, according to Human Resources Director Bryan Fobbus.
The city pay study and reclassification for the position of major was completed when the actual strength was two majors -- administrative and operations, Wagner stated in his appeal. Request to move into a higher grade to expand salary ceiling and in light of taking on the major duties of two majors.
Fobbus said the city hasnt had an assistant police chief in the 25 years hes been with the city. There has a been a colonel in the past.
Evans said through police spokeswoman Tabitha Pugh that mayor and council must first decide whether to approve the Carl Vinson Institute position before deciding if any changes in the departments structure are necessary.
In the original study, Wagner received a pay grade of 23 and a salary of $78,659, which is the maximum salary in the grade. The pay grade would be increased to a 24 under the Carl Vinson Institute recommendation. The grade has a salary range of $57,883 to $86,825.
Appeals continue but some employees not notified
Eight other police employees appealed the study. The Carl Vinson Institute recommended changes for only Wagner.
Though 26 appeals were filed, council is considering 27 changes. A meter maintenance technician who didnt appeal was recommended to be downgraded after the institute reviewed two supervisory positions in the public works department.
Mayor Chuck Shaheen said City Council could approve all the appeals in one sweep or with one vote in which certain recommendations are accepted and others arent.
He pointed out council is not required to discuss the appeals in a public session under Georgia law. The vote has to be made in public.
Recreation Department Director James Dodson, the only department head to appeal his pay grade, is among the employees the Carl Vinson Institute did not recommend for pay grade adjustments.
This position is properly classified and graded, the Carl Vinson Institute stated. It is a management decision whether or not the Mayor and Council want to assign all of the Citys department directors at the same salary grade.
Pay grades for department directors differ. According to the study, the police chief, city clerk, city development director and city attorney are a grade 24. The public works director is a grade 25. And the chief financial officer and human resources director are a grade 24.
The recreation department director is a pay grade of 25, which has a maximum salary of $95,838. Dodsons currently salary is $81,768, which is just past the midpoint in his current grade.
Though Shaheen said adjusting any grades is up to council, he pointed out Dodson has been a dedicated city employee for more than 20 years and is the longest-serving director.
Obviously, I see the worth of James, but we wouldnt have done the study if it didnt give us a third party view on the departments, Shaheen said. I see the value of services that he provides to the recreation department. ... Inside that grade -- whatever it is -- he ought to be paid appropriately in that pay grade.
Meanwhile, some employees have said they would have appealed their pay grades and salaries if they had known about the process.
Fobbus said this week that his office gave appeals forms to department directors, who were supposed to distribute them to employees.
As part of the Carl Vinson Institute study, the human resources staff will be trained this month on the procedures to maintain and update the pay scale in-house. Once thats done, employees who didnt get a chance to appeal to the institute can do so through the city, Fobbus said.
Itll be using the same evaluation process that UGA uses, Fobbus said. Once were trained, then well send out a notice.
To contact writer Christina M. Wright, call 256-9685.