We began this process in 2014 with an independent study from HRS that included in-depth interviews with City Hall staff to understand the scope of responsibilities associated with each position and then comparatively assessed the rate of pay for each position across 17 Massachusetts communities that were similar to Holyoke in terms of size and demographic composition.
The salary study got a favorable recommendation from the Ordinance Committee in 2015, but was sent back to committee by councilors who wanted additional budgetary controls. It then languished in committee for 7 years.
Over those 7 years, we lost the ability to attract and retain talented workers. Pay in the library degraded to below minimum wage. Workers often left after the City invested a significant amount of time, money and resources into training them for their positions, causing a costly talent drain in City Hall and impacting the City’s ability to deliver high quality services to our residents. When Mayor Morse left at the end of March, the City was operating a $142 million budget with significant staffing deficiencies across City Hall.
The passage of the revised (COLA adjusted) Hiring and Compensation Schedule includes the budgetary controls that councilors were looking for years ago, it corrects the problems of wages that had fallen below minimum wage, and brings the elected department head salaries up to competitive rates.