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Thread: Salary issues

  1. #1
    Cyburbian
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    Salary issues

    Hi all, I work for a township of 70,000 population. There are lots of planning issues and development applications. I need some advice on how to react when after working really hard for one year, your employer’ gives no raise or bonus. When I started with a comparatively low salary, they said they give good raise at the end of a year. Now I don't see that. I don't want to be too offensive but I feel like I am being little exploited. I do development review for all planning board applications, typically 4 to 5 per month beside lots of small work items with salary less than 50k. It SUCKS!! I can hardly afford living in this area with this salary.

  2. #2
    Super Moderator luckless pedestrian's avatar
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    it depends...

    Hi Veggie - are you in government or private sector?

  3. #3
    Cyburbian The One's avatar
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    Yup....

    Sounds like you are getting the "raw" deal....a double whammy since you apparently live in New Jersey....snicker.....just kidding ....gotta keep a good sense of humor right??

    Seriously, depending on your level within the organization, you need to start with your supervisor (did you already have an annual review?). Make sure it is in writing and point out all the positives about your employment so far....this is important, keeping things positive while asking for consideration for a pay increase. I don't think I've ever had an employer that didn't promise an annual pay review at my hire date, then not deliver....except maybe my position with a home builder.....who woulda thought that...?? With that exception, all the local gov. jobs I've had point to the past and paint a great picture of the future.... And to think some of these places wonder why they have a high turnover......

    I'd like someone out there to start a thread about Cost of Living adjustments vs. Performance Raises and include a poll! Along with my friends in the field, it seems like everyplace wants to pass off the old COLA as a "raise"......since when did this pass the straight face test!!!
    “The way of acquiescence leads to moral and spiritual suicide. The way of violence leads to bitterness in the survivors and brutality in the destroyers. But, the way of non-violence leads to redemption and the creation of the beloved community.”
    Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
    - See more at: http://www.thekingcenter.org/king-ph....r7W02j3S.dpuf

  4. #4
    Cyburbian
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    i am guessing that it has more to do with a tight township budget than anything else.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian
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    I'd say the big thing is to find out what your bosses are thinking. Its no secret everybody wants a raise- it shouldn't raise too many eyebrows to simply ask about it. Rather than wonder what's up, go to them and ask.

    A previous poster had a good point, though- have you already had your annual review? That's the time where your boss should explain why you are or are not getting a raise and you get to plead your case. Good luck!

  6. #6
    Cyburbian Flying Monkeys's avatar
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    Only 4 or 5 reviews a month? You must be working in the public sector. Find out what your private sector peers are doing for an extra 5 or 10 k per year. What are their hours compared to yours? Not everything is about money. You may find it is not so bad where you are at.

    Just a thought...
    What’s in a name? – Your reputation….:)

  7. #7
    Cyburbian RubberStamp Man's avatar
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    Notwithstanding Flying Monkey's comments, I would compare apples to apples and find out what your public sectors peers are getting. In addition to different types of work, public sector and private sector orgs are completely different and will likely have different processes for a raise. My experience is that wages between private and public is different and hence not normally comparable.

    I agree with the other posts that the review is the best time to raise this discussion. It is also a good time to look at career aspirations, so not only discussion about a raise in the short term, but how you may be able to work towards a promotion or moving to the next level.

  8. #8
    Cyburbian Tide's avatar
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    That seems like light work for a twp. of 70k, anyway. How old are you? I started at 36k and was happy for a while. However, I did receive yearly raises due to our contract... if you aren't unionized or have a contract then no raise for you. If you haven't brought it up at all I would approach your employer and ask what is typical in your office. However, you also need to remember that as a public employee your hours are less & your benefits are generally better than private sector and that is hard to put a dollar amount on.
    @GigCityPlanner

  9. #9
    Cyburbian cch's avatar
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    Are you union or salary? Even though I am salary here, the union is still negotiating their COLA for this year (typically 3-4&#37 and we get whatever they get. Once they approve the contract we'll get that raise retro-actively. If you are union, you aren't allowed any bonuses or raises outside of COLA, so don't count on it happening. If you are salary you should have gotten a unilateral pay plan when you started, that tells you what your salary jumps up to at each anniversary. Or, someplaces don't have a strict pay plan for salaried workers, and it is up to you to negotiate a raise, ideally when the budget is being worked out.

    BTW, my last job I handled approx. 2 subdivisions and 12 zoning applications each month, on top of zoning clearances for building permits (about 5/day), assigning addresses, looking up zoning for realtors and appraisers, etc. and I made less than $40K. Cost of living is much more reasonable in this area, though. But consider yourself lucky with your workload.

  10. #10
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    You can't always expect a raise in any job, but perhaps particularly in government. After many years of good raises, we had a council that went on a "no spending" kick. That meant no salary increase. Of course, it also caused several of us to look elsewhere.
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  11. #11
    Quote Originally posted by Cardinal View post
    You can't always expect a raise in any job, but perhaps particularly in government. After many years of good raises, we had a council that went on a "no spending" kick. That meant no salary increase. Of course, it also caused several of us to look elsewhere.
    Very true. Our raises (county govt) were basically cut in half a few years ago due to budget issues. I would also agree that you have to figure your benefits into the whole package. Government benefits are typically better than the private sector. That can amount to $10K/yr or more of value. I can honestly say that I am spoiled by my benefits. Of my friends, I don't know anybody that has better medical/vision/dental coverage than me. Also keep in mind that you usually work more hours to get the higher pay in the private sector. So in the end, are you really coming out ahead?
    In the beginning there was nothing...then Chuck Norris Roundhouse kicked that nothing in the face and said "Get a job". That is the story of the universe.

  12. #12
    Cyburbian
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    Speaking only from the salary side, I think the private sector jobs come out ahead of the public sector jobs are in two situations:

    1. You are a very talented/phenominal planner, landscape architect, etc. and are employed at a very successful consulting firm (preferably a national or multi-national firm). This doens't mean you just do a good job or even put in the 110% at your job, but you possess skills that are above and beyond a typical worker. I think this is easier to identify in architecture and landscape architecture. This star worker brings in new clients and therefore commands a higher salary. Not too many of these guys out there.
    2. You are a partner in your firm. Planning directors, city administrators, etc. at the top of the public-sector food-chain, can easily make 6 figures. However, there is still a salary cap or very little wiggle-room for huge raises.

    I guess most people stay in the private sector with the longer hours and the fewer benefits to get as much experience, network, learn how a business is run, and/or hopefully start a business/make partner themselves. Public sector positions are very important. I was in some myself, but I think I would get too restless moving back there now.

  13. #13
    Cyburbian
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    Dear folks,

    Since many of you came up with saying that 4/5 application per month is a light work. Its better to clarify that atleast 3 amongst 5 are typically large subdivisons or very large site plans. These take a lot of time to review. And the small work items besides these include handling of small full projects on my own. Like projects project worth of 5 to 15k cost.

  14. #14
    For reference, in my last job (2004-05, about a year and a half in length) I was working as a municipal planner in a south jersey consulting firm, and was earning less than 50k until the tail end of my employment (when I was right at 50k). I was handling a bunch of development applications for a number of municipalities, as well as a host of other planning projects. Total weekly hours were about 46-50 including night meetings. I also know of other junior-level planners in central/north jersey (~04 masters graduates) who are earning 50k or just less at municipal consulting firms. Your salary doesn't seem out of line, although the lack of a promised raise coming through (without an explanation) is an issue in itself.

  15. #15
    Cyburbian nerudite's avatar
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    From someone who has never worked in the Jersey/NY area, and has only worked in the West, that area has a notorious reputation for paying low professional planner salaries relative to the cost of living. If you are really finding your wage hard to deal with, you may have to move to a different area. As a public planner living near NY, I think you'll have to get used to the low pay for now.

    That being said, as a supervisor of several employees in a public agency, my hands are tied right now regarding wage increases outside of annual reviews. And even then, at a certain wage step, you max out and only get COLAs. So if you are having a review, or have the chance to appeal your review, then take this opportunity to talk to your supervisor or HR Department while you can.

    A few years ago, I was a Senior Planner supervising a branch of our department. Everyone around me at my same mid-management level was getting paid more for less responsibility and fewer employees. I read my job description, and I wasn't even a supervisor in it, let alone running a branch. I knew that my job description was coming up for review in a year, so I started tracking very specifically all of my responsibilities. I used my list of accomplishments to edit my job description... which, unfortunately lead nowhere with HR initially when it came to salary classification. But I appealed the decision through the appeal process and presented all of the information I had gathered in the past year. I was successful in my appeal, which then lead to a title change and salary classification change... which lead to a 35% raise over the past year when you compound each of those events (with a nice COLA). The point in this: use your opportunities, promote what you do above and beyond your job description or classification instead of comparing yourself to others, and continue to do a kick-ass job in your day-to-day work.

    If you don't succeed in getting a raise after that? Then you have some great material for your resume and cover letter, and you can take your talents elsewhere.


    <<sorry if that message was disjointed... I got interrupted five times by the phone while trying to type it out. ugh.>>

  16. #16
    Cyburbian tsc's avatar
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    In NY, public job salaries are often tied to experience. I am in the NY metro area and a starter planner (one with a Masters and a year or so of exp.) make about 50-60. You need at least 4 years exp by civil service to move up to the next grade and pay at 70k. The further from NYC the salaries really drop though. They don't call it public servant for nothing!

    I think in Upstate NY... as starter planner would be about 30k... and a director might make about 60-70.

    Salaries in our area did not keep up with the housing cost explosion of the last 5 years...and even though it stopped climbing...it really didn't fall much in Westchester County.
    "Yeehaw!" is not a foreign policy

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  17. #17
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    Quote Originally posted by tsc View post
    I think in Upstate NY... as starter planner would be about 30k... and a director might make about 60-70.
    I'm a young planner in Upstate NY and I make over $40k (I made $52k in So Cal two years ago)...but maybe by Upstate NY ur referring to some of the more rural regions, not the major cities of Buffalo/Rochester/Syracuse/Albany where the wages are a little more livable.

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