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Cape Council discusses city wage benchmarks

By Staff | Sep 4, 2015

With the city of Cape Coral offering compensation to non-bargaining employees that is last or next to last, according to a city-led study, the need to recruit and retain quality people has never been more urgent, officials said Wednesday.

City staff said that residents, the media and the candidates are misunderstanding the meaning of paying employees at the 75th percentile, hence the debate on the numbers.

City Manager John Szerlag and Assistant City Manager Mike Ilczysyn clarified the intent of increasing pay at the council workshop meeting.

Ilcyzsyn said the misunderstanding comes from people believing the city is looking to pay employees at the 75th percentile of the range, rather than of the minimum, which the study looked into.

According to figures Cape Coral paid 28 percentiles below the minimum and 35 percentiles below the maximum in comparison to like cities such as Fort Lauderdale and Coral Springs.

General union employees are 8.8 percentiles below the minimum and maximum.

City council remained mixed on what percentile the city should adopt.

Some sought attainability, which meant the city being in the 60th to 66th percentile.

“It’s a great goal but let’s go with something attainable like 60. There’s always someone who’s going to pay better,” Councilmember Richard Leon said. “Let’s create good training possibilities and opportunities so people will want to stay.”

“The council understands it, we just have different perspectives and how we feel about policy. We all get it, we want different things,” Leon said. “It works out in the end.”

Councilmember Jim Burch said the percentile number is a symbolic figure and that the percentile really doesn’t matter.

“Now that I understand it, and I don’t support paying everyone in the 75th percentile up the range, but I asked for a different study and now I’m on board with what came back. We need to be supportive,” Mayor Marni Sawicki said. “Otherwise we just wasted money. I’m not going to be one to commission a study and didn’t act on it.”