New Hampshire Town and City
Customized Wage, Salary and Benefits Reports Offer Resource to Aid in Decision Making
New Hampshire Town and City, October 2009
By Erica S. Johnson
Setting competitive wages and benefits is challenging, especially in the present economic climate. How do your municipality’s benefits compare to those of similar-sized municipalities? Are you concerned that your municipality is paying employees too much—or not enough?
The New Hampshire Local Government Center (LGC) Human Resources Department can help you answer these questions and more with data compiled through an annual wage, salary and benefits survey. For more than 35 years, LGC has invited New Hampshire municipalities to participate in this comprehensive survey, which has evolved into a 40-page inquiry into common municipal positions and benefits provided to municipal employees. The response rate has grown steadily over the years and, in fact, the 2009 survey was completed by 87 percent of cities and towns.
Each fall, LGC publishes the resulting data in the Wage, Salary and Benefits Survey for Municipalities, a two-volume spiral-bound set comprising more than 600 pages of information. Each member municipality receives one complimentary copy of this valuable resource as a benefit of membership. The publication provides information on core positions within the categories of Administrative Officials; Clerical/Fiscal; Labor, Trade and Public Works; Library; Inspection, Technical and Professional; Police and Fire. The survey strives to collect information on common positions found in the majority of municipalities, but may not include every position within your particular city or town. Inside the salary publication, you’ll find common positions including aldermen/councilmen/selectmen, town administrator, city/town clerk, highway superintendent/road agent, police chief, library director, building inspector and fire chief, to name a few. The benefits publication includes basics like holidays, vacation, sick leave, health and dental insurance. Additional information details benefits such as personal leave, retirement, uniform allowance, labor contracts, pay and longevity plans, short-term disability, long-term disability and life insurance. Data within each topic is organized by population category to aid in comparing information.
Customized Reporting Features
Have you ever found yourself searching through the publication, wishing you could dig into the data still further? Just how does your community compare in specific areas? If you have a specific question, LGC’s Human Resources Department can provide you with an answer. Based on criteria you specify, we can analyze data and produce a customized report to show you how your community stacks up, such as comparing your municipality to others of similar size, creating regional comparisons, or a variety of other comparative methods. These tailored reports offer a new resource to inform your local decision-making process.
For example, as you embark on the upcoming budget process, your municipality may want to be sure that its police department budget is comparable to those of other municipalities. A report can be generated outlining the police department budgets in a list of communities that you specify, in surrounding communities or in municipalities of similar population size.
If your municipality is considering conducting a comprehensive review of employees’ salaries, we can design a report that compares salaries for positions in your community with those offered in communities with similar regional or population-based characteristics. Such a report is also helpful when creating new positions, too.
Benefits are often an area of uncertainty. How do your offerings compare? Perhaps your municipality is considering switching health insurance carriers or changing the amount employees contribute toward their health coverage benefit. Using this database, we can customize a report that shows what employees in other municipalities are contributing or which health insurance carriers are being utilized within comparable communities. Ensuring your municipality is competitive in wages and benefits encourages longevity and instills a sense of self-worth among employees, thus creating a better working environment for everyone.
Here are just a few examples of reports that have been requested in recent months:
A municipality with a population of 3,500 was unsure if they were paying their full-time town administrator enough money. A report was generated outlining the salaries for full-time town administrators around the state in the population range of 2,000-4,999.
We recently created a report outlining the life insurance carriers, the municipalities’ contributions and the values of the life insurance polices for 10 specified communities.
The salaries and union affiliations of the full-time and part-time patrol officers in 16 specified communities were compared for a municipality.
A municipality requested information on how many municipalities had full-time road agents to see if their municipality should switch from a part-time road agent to a full-time road agent. This report also provided starting wages for the new full-time road agent.
The municipal employment data section of the publication includes budgets for main departments within the municipalities. This section was customized to review budgets for the police and fire departments for 25 specified municipalities.
The survey database contains information dating back to 2003, which enables historic comparisons and can be helpful in viewing trends during economic cycles. In addition, there is no limit to the number of municipalities or positions contained within the requested report.
Requesting a Report
Before requesting a customized report for your community, it is helpful to first familiarize yourself with the table of contents of the Survey publication, which outlines the categories of available data. This information is also available in the Human Resources section of the LGC website at www.nhlgc.org. The table of contents outlines the types of positions and benefits contained in the survey database, all of which is available for customization. Taking the time to carefully review the data categories will help you determine the information that would most benefit your municipality.
This service is currently offered free of charge to member municipalities, and reports can be provided in PDF or Excel format. The turn-around time varies based on the complexity of the request; however, basic reports can often be completed within one to two weeks.
Customized reports may be requested at any time of the year, and reports will draw from the most current information available. While the annual survey is conducted during the spring and summer months, the new data is generally available by late summer for reporting purposes. The printed publication is available in the fall.
Customized wage, salary and benefits reports are a valuable resource available to assist municipalities in making staffing and budget decisions. As you begin preparing for the upcoming budget season, remember this free service—just one more benefit of LGC membership!
Erica Johnson is senior report and data coordinator for the Human Resources Department at the New Hampshire Local Government Center. For more information about LGC’s Wage, Salary and Benefits Survey and customized report service, and to request a customized report, contact Erica at 800.852.3358, ext. 120, or e-mail email@example.com. Visit the Wage, Salary and Benefits Survey table at LGC’s Annual Conference this November to preview the customized report service.
Each member municipality receives one complimentary copy of the annual Wage, Salary and Benefits Survey publication; the 2009 publication will be available in November. To order additional copies, contact Julie Dietz at 603.224.7447, ext. 100, or visit www.nhlgc.org.