Palm Beach County commissioners unanimously agreed Tuesday to change the pay rules for their administrative assistants to allow them to secure a senior position – and a higher salary – more quickly.
The county’s rules now require commission assistants to be employed by the county for 8 to 15 years before they can become a senior administrative assistant.
But commissioners voted Tuesday to ease that requirement. Beginning Oct. 1, commission assistants will only need 2 years of experience with any government agency to qualify for the senior-level position. Commissioners also directed county administrators to come up with a new pay scale for administrative assistants who are given the senior-level title.
The rule change comes as the county’s blue collar union pushes for raises. The commission has received a handful of emails from members of the Communications Workers of America Local 3181, which represents county workers, urging the commission to approve raises for employees.
It has been more than four years since county employees were given an across-the-board raise.
Some commissioners have argued that the county’s term-limit rule, which prevents members from serving more than two consecutive four-year terms, makes it difficult for commission assistants to reach a senior level. Commission assistants work at the will of their commissioner and can be forced to leave their job if a new person is elected to fill the seat.
Commissioner Hal Valeche expressed concern with the rule change, saying it should be considered as part of the county’s overall budget, but voted in favor of the plan.
“I think separating this out from the rest of the county, because there are significant raises involved here, this perhaps isn’t the right time to be considering it,” Valeche said.
Commissioner Paulette Burdick said the rule change would give future commissioners flexibility when hiring staff.
Commissioner Shelley Vana pushed for the rule change arguing that it is needed to keep good employees.
Commissioner Priscilla Taylor said she also wanted the commission to consider creating several different salary levels for senior administrative assistants. The move, she said, would allow employees to receive a promotion once he or she reaches the senior level.
The commission is expected to consider the pay grades at a future meeting.
The Palm Beach County Commission took the following action Tuesday:
GL Homes: Postponed a decision on whether to accept a $2.8 million payout from GL Homes rather than require the developer to set aside land for purposes such as parks and fire stations in the county’s Agricultural Reserve.
Auditing: Approved a three-year, $2.2 million contract with McGladrey, LLP for external auditing services.