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Salary study finds pay lagging in Dawson
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A recent salary study commissioned by Dawson County found there are positions within the government that are below the recommended minimum pay level compared to neighboring jurisdictions.

Dawson County Commission Chair Mike Berg on Tuesday said he hopes the county will be able to resolve the issue in next year's budget.

"I hope in the budget process we can at least get to the minimums for everyone," he said. "I hope that's what comes out of this."

County Manager Cindy Campbell is working with representatives from The Archer Company, a consulting firm specializing in human resource management that conducted the study.

"Several years ago there was a salary study done and that's what our current salary ranges are based on," Campbell said. "We had people complaining that their pay was low ... so we just felt like it was time to update it because it had been so long and it is a good idea."

While the initial results of the study have been returned to the county, the process is ongoing.

"This is a work in progress right now. This is not the final product," she said. "We were very cautious about releasing this. We wanted to make sure we have all of our questions answered, because we can't get angry and upset about the results if we haven't had time to ask our questions and make sure it's right."

The study compared salaries to those of governments in neighboring Forsyth, Hall, Lumpkin and Pickens counties, as well as the nearby cities of Canton, Cumming, Dahlonega, Ellijay, Gainesville and Jasper.

"We're in competition for employees with the surrounding counties, so those are the counties he looked at," Campbell said.

The process included questionnaires to each employee asking them to describe their job tasks. Separate questions sent to managers asked who they thought might be underpaid based on job duties.

"Then they assigned a point system to each task and it was based on education and what kind of training was required, physical requirements, every aspect of their jobs," Campbell said. "For a fireman, they would consider the dangers associated with being a fireman or a deputy.

"They tried to be as objective as possible. They didn't consider who was in the position, only what the position was and what it required."

The findings determined it would take about $235,000 to bring all positions to Archer's suggested minimum range. To bring salaries to Archer's target range would cost about $700,000.

The county employs 322 workers with salaries totaling $10.9 million in 2013.

Campbell is awaiting a follow-up with Archer officials before establishing a recommendation to present the commission next month when the county's budget will be set.

Berg is currently meeting with the county's constitutional officers and department heads in preparation.

"Hopefully, he'll include my recommendation in the budget that will go before the board of commissioners, so I'm trying to push for something for our employees," Campbell said.