Harrisonburg City Council approves wage increase and one-time retention payment for city employees

HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) – The Harrisonburg City Council met Tuesday night and the council unanimously approved a pay raise for all city employees.

The approved proposal called for a 5% mid-year salary increase for all city employees. The proposal also approved a one-time bonus of $3,000 for full-time employees and $1,500 for part-time employees.

Retention payment is offered to use American Rescue Plan Act funding when eligible. The hope is that the salary increase will help the city fill in departments that are understaffed.

“When I talk to you about recruitment and retention challenges, it’s really at any end of the salary spectrum and in every department,” Deputy City Manager Ande Banks said during the meeting. “It’s kind of an immediate need. It’s to try to deal with the bleeding that we’re seeing right now and being challenged with right now.

Banks explained that the city will soon begin conducting a classification and compensation study, which will assess benefits, salaries, salary ranges and compare the city to its regional competitors. He said the city hopes to have more information in six months.

“It’s no secret that we’re having difficulty in some departments when it comes to hiring, so we need to be competitive,” Harrisonburg Mayor Deanna Reed said. “We have to be competitive when it comes to wages.”

Reed said the Harrisonburg Police Department and Department of Public Transportation have been particularly hard hit by understaffing.

“It’s common knowledge that we’ve lost 18 police officers and that’s not where we want to be, so I think that will help. Is this the only thing we will do? I do not think so. I hope not. Hopefully we can do a little more for our police department,” she said.

In addition to attracting new employees, the City also wishes to reward its current employees who have worked very hard throughout the last two years of the pandemic.

“Across the board we’ve had issues attracting applicants and not only that, but we want to make sure we’re taking care of the employees we have,” Reed said.

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