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College Park pays employees less than other governments

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Posted on: June 6, 2024

By KATELYNN WINEBRENNER

As many as 74 City of College Park employees will see salary increases after a study showed they earn less than their peers in other cities in the region.

The salary increases could cost the city about $240,784, according to an estimate by Paypoint HR, the company the city contracted to conduct the study, which was presented in April to the city council by Rick Campbell, the organization’s technical director.

The study compared the salaries of the city’s employees with those of workers from 25 other Maryland and Virginia cities and counties with similar socio-economic makeups to College Park. These included cities like Hyattsville, Greenbelt and Rockville.

“To our surprise, many of our employees fell below comparison,” Teresa Way-Pezzuti, College Park’s director of human resources, said. “After many discussions, the city decided that we would like to be at least at the 50th percentile.”

Being at the 50th percentile of the 25 cities surveyed means that College Park would be right in the middle, with half of the cities paying a higher salary for the same work and the other half paying less.

As a whole, city employees earn, on average, 1.2% more than the 50th percentile of the cities surveyed. However, when city salaries are evaluated by department averages, half of the city departments fall below the 50th percentile, according to the study.

“Relative to the 50th percentile – you’re overall at pace, but there are some job titles that- [are] a little bit out of alignment,” Campbell said.

When measured by this comparison, College Park administrators earn, on average, 3.2% below the middle of the market. Employees in two city departments –Public Services and Youth, Family and Senior Service– earn, on average, 2.6% and 0.7% below the middle of the market, respectively.

On the other hand, employees in the Department of Finance earn, on average, 8% more than the middle of the market; employees of both Planning (5%) and Public Works (5.4%) also had salaries higher than the middle of the market.
After the presentation, councilmembers voted unanimously to increase salaries to reach the city’s goal.

“I think it’s vitally important for us to bring our employees to a fair compensation and wage, especially if we want to maintain them,” Councilmember Llatetra Brown Esters (District 2) said. “We often talk about how wonderful our employees are. I think this is an important step in showing them how important they are.”

The study also analyzed each position in terms of the 60th percentile, which changed the ratio such that 40% of surveyed cities pay more than College Park while 60% pay less. This would make city salaries more competitive.
Mayor Pro Tem Denise Mitchell said the city could aim to meet this benchmark in the future.

Overall, the city pays, on average, 6.7% below the 60th percentile of comparable cities in the region, according to the study.

“This is showing you that overall, you’d be less than 7% behind the market,” Campbell said. “Again, that is a strategic choice because it does involve allocation of taxpayer dollars.”

However, Councilmember John Rigg (District 3) said he believes reaching these goals is important.

“Fifty percent is good, but it’s probably insufficient for the quality of our staff, for the labor market and the pressures that we confront,” Rigg said. “I appreciate that we’re average for our peer group, but I will say that everybody in College Park is above average.”

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