OLATHE, Kan. – To stay competitive in a tight job market, Johnson County government will allocate $150,000 to review wages of county employees.

On Thursday, the Johnson County Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) voted 6-1 to approve funding to study the salary and benefits of county employees to determine if staff are being paid competitively compared to the private and public sector. 

Deputy County Manager Maury Thompson said the study will take approximately eight months to complete. 

“We are proposing a comprehensive salary and benefits study to go to the market to tell us what’s going on out there so we are better prepared to make decisions for the organization,” Thompson said. 

The commission also approved an amendment to the county compensation policy. The amendment authorizes the county manager, instead of the BOCC, to determine which municipalities Johnson County will be compared to in the salary and benefit study. 

“I’ve always thought this was an administrative process. Bottom line, this commission is not losing anything. We are going to be able to make final discussions and final decisions,” Commissioner Jeff Meyers said.  

Commissioner Charlotte O’Hara was the only board member to vote against the resolution, citing concerns about transferring additional authority to the county manager. 

“We have been transferring power to the county manager. I think one of the issues of masking our employees and requiring weekly tests for COVID was an absolute policy issue that should have been reviewed by this board and we did not. I know there is a difference of opinion on this board, but absolutely we cannot be transferring our responsibility. This is a policy making board,” O’Hara said. 

Assistant County Manager Joe Waters said the last compensation assessment was approximately four years ago. 

Commissioner Janeé Hanzlick said the county risks losing quality staff if it cannot offer competitive wages. 

“It’s critical that we have the data to know where we stand with where we are in the market,” Hanzlick said.

The compensation study is expected to be complete by December. The BOCC will maintain the authority to grant final approval for all county staff pay tables and compensation policies through the annual budget process.

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