NRE Compensation Study

The public is certainly a stakeholder, but we have received no updates until last night.
By Ron Wambolt | Jul 25, 2012


The non-represented employee study discussed by city council last night was to take 90 to 120 days, but took near twice that amount of time.

One reason is because the consultant had to update some job descriptions. Hopefully in the future they’ll routinely be updated by staff, as that’s not a task to pay a consultant to do.

At the Oct 25, 2011 council meeting it was stated that there would be continued communication with council, city leadership, the project team and stakeholders.

The public is certainly a stakeholder, but we have received no updates until last night.

The consultant’s report reflects the completion of a lot of very good work, and it was done at a cost lower than anticipated. But if all of the recommendations are adopted by city council, all city workers will in effect be unionized.

I say that because the city’s highest paid workers would receive, in addition to COLA increases:

  • 5 percent step increases annually and not merit increases
  • longevity pay
  • and deferred compensation, which is unlike any deferred compensation that I’m accustomed to because it’s additional pay, not existing pay that’s deferred.

The consultant was able to find matches in the private sector for nine city positions.

That data caused the average pay in the survey for seven of those positions to be higher than what was indicated by the average of the comparator cities. The actual private sector data should be provided by the consultant.

If this report is fully adopted by city council, the city will have lost an opportunity to start moving away from the “over-the-top” compensation negotiated by the city’s trade unions.

There are stories in the press almost daily about cities having big financial problems because of excessive compensation; Edmonds is headed in that direction. Without reduced compensation citizens will be enduring higher property taxes, or reduced services.

The city should not be seeking to raise non-represented employee compensation; it should be seeking to curb the growth in  compensation for represented employees.

Additionally, council should take into consideration that some of the compensation by some of the comparator cities is more theoretical than actual. Because some cities have gotten more concessions from employees than have been sought from our employees. Concessions need to be benchmarked.

Edmonds continues to be a leader in environmental issues, now it’s time for our city to show a path to compensation sanity.


Ron Wambolt












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