Village raises pay levels in 'tough market'

Feeling the impact of the tight labor market, Hinsdale officials have boosted village pay rates in a bid to stay competitive with other municipalities.

At the May 3 village board meeting, trustees approved increases to the pay plans for full- and part-time employees, public service workers and seasonal staff, retroactive to May 1.

The board held a brief discussion on the measure following the proposal’s introduction at the April 26 board meeting by Trustee Matt Posthuma.

“The pay plans consist of a range and steps of pay based on seniority and responsibility,” Posthuma said. “Generally speaking, the pay plans are going to be increasing by 2 1/2 percent.”

He noted that for positions such as police and fire chief, finance director and assistant village manager positions, the starting pay levels will be increased but not the maximum salaries, as they were already deemed to be competitive with the market. In a board memo, Tracy McLaughlin, the village’s human resources director, explained that the village was able to analyze its wage structure relative to those of neighboring and comparable communities.

“The start step and top step were evaluated for market competitiveness to attract and retain talent,” McLaughlin stated. “This year’s draft pay plan recommends competitive starting rates and top rates of pay.”

The most significant increase, however, was adjusting the village minimum wage for seasonal staff from $12 to $15. The matter had become an urgent one with the need for lifeguards and other workers for the fast-approaching Hinsdale Community Pool season.

“We’re having trouble finding qualified people to work at the pool and in some other part-time positions,” Posthuma said of the rationale behind the “fairly substantial increase.”

The minimum wage in Illinois rose to $12 at the start of this year. But McLaughlin told trustees that the rate hadn’t been enough to induce applicants.

“This year, literally we were getting no one applying,” McLaughlin said at the April 26 meeting in reference to the open pool positions. “Once we did move it to $15, we have our positions filled and we are ready for a full season.”

“It’s a tough market,” Trustee Neale Byrnes remarked.

Young people are seemingly willing to work if the pay is sufficient. A study by the Bureau of Labor Statistics last summer reported that more than 32 percent of teens had a summer job, which was the highest number since 2008.

Village President Tom Cauley wondered if the increase in the state’s minimum wage was a factor. McLaughlin said that a survey of area public and private pools revealed that $15 an hour is the rate to be competitive.

“If this is what we’ve got to do, this is what we’ve got to do,” Cauley said.

All the salary increases are within budget, Posthuma noted. The pay plans do not apply to the village’s police officers, whose salaries are governed by a collective bargaining agreement.

Author Bio

Ken Knutson is associate editor of The Hinsdalean