Council approves $26,000 to compensate underpaid town employees


The Zionsville Town Council approved a $26,000 additional appropriation to compensate town employees whose wages are below a minimum competitive threshold established by a recently completed compensation study.

On Aug. 16, the council unanimously adopted a resolution that will compensate “a few employees” who are below the minimum threshold. The study created salary ranges based on a market-based benchmarking process. The number of employees who qualified for increased wages was not specified, nor were their positions.

“In preparation for the 2021 budget, we identified a need to create a compensation guide in how we hire and retain employees,” said Jo Kiel, the town’s human resources manager.

“Replacing a fixed rate for each position with a salary range provides consistency and flexibility and supports the Town of Zionsville’s efforts to attract and retain the talent it needs to be successful,” the resolution stated.

To conduct the study, officials talked to employees, department heads and the human resources department to update job descriptions of all town employees. The job descriptions were then compared to those in the market, and positions were benchmarked to other similar positions within the public and private sectors, including in Lebanon, Whitestown, Carmel, Fishers and other municipalities that reflect the market in which the town competes for talent. A set of salary ranges were then established, including minimum, midpoint and maximum targets.

Officials said they would not need to conduct a new study every year to determine wage competitiveness but that the town would continue to refine performance evaluations and use them as a tool to reward high performers with increased compensation.

“Depending on how the market moves, and we are seeing a lot of market movement right now, if we needed to in the mid-term, we could bring the ranges up a percentile each year, a certain common percent to reflect that,” said First Person Vice President Megan Nail, who was involved in conducting the study. “But, in general, a whole market study would be every couple of years.”

Kiel said the study will provide a framework now and in the future for how the Zionsville addresses town employee wages.