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Blair salary board delays action on study

Compensation policy recommendations to be developed

HOLLIDAYSBURG — The Blair County board expected to address recommendations in an employee salary study is turning its attention toward developing a compensation policy.

The salary board, which scheduled a special meeting today to take action on study recommendations that could have meant pay raises for some employees, agreed Wednesday to keep the recommendations on hold pending development of a compensation policy.

A compensation policy, with rules or guidelines for hiring procedures, promotions, demotions and job transfers, will complement the salary study’s recommendations, Commissioner Bruce Erb said Wednesday when asking fellow salary board members to change the focus of today’s meeting.

Salary board member and county Controller A.C. Stickel acknowledged his disappointment with the delay. But Stickel agreed to attend what Erb suggested could turn into weekly or bi-weekly meetings to

develop a policy.

Commissioner Laura Burke, who also sits on the salary board, also agreed with Erb’s recommended action.

“I think we need to keep this moving,” Burke said.

Erb acknowledged that he initially resisted the idea of further delaying action on salary study recommendations, pending development of a compensation policy.

The recommendation, Erb said, came from Heather Meck, a human resources manager the county hired a few months ago, based on her prior work experience.

After talking with commissioners in other counties and experienced human resource professionals, Erb said he concluded that Meck’s recommendation “is sound and consistent with what we as the salary board need to do.”

East Coast Risk Management, the company that completed the county’s salary study, presented its salary change recommendations in October, and commissioners had indicated they would be turned over to the salary board for review. To address pay inequities, the company’s report proposed both raises and freezes applicable to the county’s 550 employees, excluding elected officials.

Collectively, the company found that employee wages added up to $16.43 million, which East Coast calculated as $710,932 less than recommended pay levels of $17.14 million.

While the salary board members have not publicly discussed the study’s findings, the results were distributed to department heads and other elected officials to review with their staffs.

It was the previous commissioners board, consisting of Erb, Terry Tomassetti and Ted Beam Jr., who commissioned the salary study in June 2018 at a cost of almost $75,000, plus expenses.

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