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City workers' pay beats area average

Rank-and-file jobs in the city pay about 7.5 percent more than similar jobs in the local market, a recent study revealed.

The study compared a sample of city of Tampa salaries with those paid in 15 other public and private employers, including St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Orlando, Hillsborough and Pinellas.

Details were not available, but according to a study summary, St. Petersburg and Hillsborough and Pinellas counties also pay higher than average.

The 7.5 percent figure "is a good place for us to be," said the city's chief of staff, Darrell Smith.

The city needs to pay enough to keep good people and recruit qualified applicants to fill job openings, he said.

The city also is working to improve its retirement benefits to lure top candidates. Since taking office, Mayor Pam Iorio has increased the multiplier used to calculate pension benefits from 1.1 to 1.2. The goal is to increase it to 1.6 to match the state retirement system.

The study covered about 2,800 employees and did not include police and fire rescue workers. About 200 were included in the first phase of the study, completed in March.

Even though on average, the city pays more than other jurisdictions, the study recommends higher pay grades for 32 jobs, including accountants, administrative assistants, office support specialists, urban planners and zoning coordinators.

"The city was competitive overall in the sample that we took," said consultant Jeff Ling, who led the study. "But some of the individual jobs were not paid what they should be."

Lower pay grades are recommended for seven positions, including custodians and park attendants.

The staff of the city's Human Resources Department will evaluate the recommendations before deciding which pay grades to change.

No one will receive a pay cut, Smith said.

If any employees are moved to a higher pay grade and they are not earning the minimum allowed in the new grade, they will get a raise.

The city last examined its salary structure more than 20 years ago. The Tampa City Council approved the $110,000 study by MGT of America in May 2005.

The first phase looked at about 200 managers, attorneys and other top positions. It concluded that people in those jobs could earn on average 6 percent more than people in similar public sector jobs.

But some top administrators earn substantially more than their peers, some up to 30 percent more.

Janet Zink can be reached at jzink@sptimes.com or (813) 226-3401.

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