LEBANON, Tenn. - A salary study by one mid-state city showed who pays well and who does not, and that study has been catching they eye of not only employees but city leaders as well.
A Wilson County city did the survey - the city of Lebanon.
If the city was having a difficult time keeping employees it's about to get worse because the new survey showed Lebanon paid on average 22 percent less than other similar size cities.
When Sylvia Reichle became the city's human resource director almost a year ago it was a difficult decision.
"It was a big discussion,” Reichle said. “I mean we really had to balance the quality of life that we would have living here versus the low wage, and I was interviewing with positions that paid between 20 and 30 thousand more."
She took the job, but as it turned out her position wasn't the only one lacking in pay.
As human resource director Reichle surveyed department head positions in other Middle Tennessee cities. Most paid a lot higher.
In most cases the average city employee salary in Lebanon was considerably less than in cities of similar size, with neighbor Mt. Juliet paying almost $10,000 more and only Shelbyville paying less.
The survey results for average city employee pay based on 2014 numbers were as follows:
- Lebanon $37,889
- Mt. Juliet $47,094
- Gallatin $44,077
- Cookeville $45,692
- Brentwood $49,574
- Goodlettsville $46,595
- Shelbyville $37,832
- Brentwood $49,574
- Hendersonville $53,580
- Murfreesboro $49,199
- Franklin $47,342
- Smyrna $55,280
The mayor and city council in Lebanon said they were taking some action, but Mayor Craighead added the city can't fix the salary disparities overnight.
"On some of the department heads we're making adjustments to bringing them closer to in line with what the pay scale is in this area,” Mayor Craighead said. “Also, we're pushing up from the bottom, any full-time employee hired by the city will be starting at $11 an hour."
When Reichle decided to work in Lebanon she couldn't complain about the benefits package. She said in most cases it's on par or exceeds others offered by similar size cities.
"The benefits were definitely appealing to me in lieu of the low wages, so that was an aspect that I considered as part of the total compensation," Reichle said.
Mayor Craighead was hoping the benefits package will make up for the deficiencies with salaries.
The proposed increases the mayor talked about were set to be part of the city's budget.
The first reading of that budget was scheduled for Tuesday night in front of the Lebanon City Council.