The city of Killeen’s average employee turnover rate has been slightly higher than the city of Waco’s over the past three years; another gap comes in to play with the turnover rate of department heads.
The city of Waco has about 200 more employees than Killeen and averaged a turnover rate of 9 percent since 2012 — 3 percent lower than Killeen’s 12 percent.
There’s also a gap in the turnover rate among department heads leaving the cities. Since 2012, Killeen has lost seven — five retired, one was dismissed and one resigned. Waco lost five.
BY THE NUMBERS
Killeen has 1,292 employees; Waco has 1,516. From January to June, Killeen had 92 employees leave the city. Of those 92 employees, three were department heads — former Municipal Judge William Gibson and former Code Enforcement Director Robert Retz retired. Roshanda Smiley, who was the city’s human resource director for less than five months, resigned in February.
Two department heads have left Waco since January.
According to numbers obtained by the Herald through an open records request, Killeen lost 210 employees in 2012 — 174 resigned, 17 retired and 19 were fired.
One of the dismissals in 2012 was former city finance director Barbara Gonzales, who was fired following an investigation into the city’s Fleet Service Division, which she oversaw. She currently has a lawsuit against the city under the Texas Whistleblower Act. Kim Randall, former fleet services director, retired in December 2012 following the same investigation.
During the same time, Waco had 128 staffers leave the city; one was a department head.
In 2013, while the number of resignations fell to 163 for Killeen, the number of employees who retired or were fired increased, with 25 retiring and 34 being dismissed.
The turnover includes the retirement of two department heads — former public works director Richard Macchi and human resources director Debbie Maynor.
Waco lost 141 employees in 2013, including two department heads.
Maynor retired in June 2013 after 14 years with the city of Killeen. She works in the Human Resources Department for Travis County.
Maynor said she was able to retire from Killeen after 14 years of service due to the way the Texas Municipal Retirement System is set up. Time spent working for the state, a municipality or in the military counts toward retirement. She worked for the state for about 14 years prior to Killeen.
“The way retirement works may account for why you see a lot of retirements. People (go to Killeen) for a second career,” she said. “I liked working there, but something that was the most challenging for me as a department head was city manager turnover. With new management comes new philosophies, new priorities, new expectations.”
Maynor said she retired from Killeen because she wanted to move to the Austin area and was presented with an opportunity to do so, but city manager turnover may account for some department head departures.
Scott Houston, general counsel for the Texas Municipal League, said they don’t retain data to determine if the rate of turnover is low, average or high for a city of its size.
Ann Farris, Killeen assistant city manager, said the top three reasons employees leave the city is for another job or a higher salary, they resign for personal reasons or they retire.
The highest number of turnovers happen in the lower pay grades — operators, clerks, solid waste workers and custodians.
“Two reasons they have a higher rate of turnover: one is they’re lower in terms of salary. When looking at the pay scale they’re close to the bottom,” Farris said. “The second reason is, for us, those positions are the ones furthest from the market. We need to change them so they are more competitive. They’re underpaid based on the market.”
According to the city’s pay scale, custodians, operators and solid waste worker’s salaries range from $20,700 to $30,144. A clerk, who falls in the lowest pay grade, has a salary ranging from $18,876 to $27,492.
In June, the Killeen City Council approved a 3 percent across-the-board raise for city employees. Additional raises are anticipated as the city moves into the budgeting process for the 2015 fiscal year, and revises its compensation plan.
Farris said the pay increase is part of the city’s effort to meet its goal outlined in its Vision 2030 plan — recruit and maintain a talented, committed workforce.
“When putting together a compensation plan, we want to be sure that we’re competing with our neighbors that are close so that our employees who may decide to work 15 minutes away won’t be drawn away because of salary,” Farris said. “Then we also identify a group of cities that are like us in nature, in terms of population.”
Farris said by using both factors of comparison in developing a compensation plan, it keeps employees from leaving to work for a city within close proximity and gives values based on comparable cities.
The most stable positions fall in the middle of the pay scale — supervisors. According to the city’s pay scale, a supervisor garners anywhere from $36,492 to $56,400 annually.
“The reason they’re stable is two-prong,” Farris said. “They’re kind of in the middle of the pay scale, so it’s a comfortable place to be and we are competitive with them. Also, a lot of times they have a career path. They’re positioned for promotion.”
Farris said the city’s benefits package aids in its retention rate with health insurance premiums for employees 100 percent financed by the city, and a retirement program with a two-to-one match.
“There’s also a longevity stipend that people earn after their first year of employment, and it’s not a lot of money but it’s a little increase in salary that says ‘Gosh, we’re sure glad you stayed here,’” she said.
Contact Natalie Stewart at firstname.lastname@example.org or 254-501-7555