Study recommends additional employees for Kannapolis

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, May 12, 2015

By Susan Shinn
For The Salisbury Post

KANNAPOLIS — More than two dozen city employees attended the Kannapolis City Council meeting Monday evening — most still in their workday uniforms. The reason? To hear the results of a job classification and compensation study, and staffing analysis from representatives of Springsted, Inc.

Since the Great Recession began, municipalities have constantly been asked to do more with less. The City of Kannapolis is no different.

John Anzivino, senior vice president, and Nick Dragisich, executive vice president, presented two extensive reports to council. The duo recommended that the city add a number of full-time positions in 2016, including a risk manager in human resources; a full-time administrative assistant in fire (an upgraded position), along with three full-time firefighters; four police officers; and two full-time water treatment operators. General services positions already in place include a full-time facilities manager, four custodians, and two part-time maintenance workers downtown. They also recommended that salaries increase to a more competitive level.

The new hires would be funded at a cost of several hundred thousand dollars.

“This is a fairly significant cost,” Dragisich admitted, “but there’s also a price to pay not to be adequately staffed.”

He referred to the $1.1 million in overtime paid throughout all city departments. The men said that the new hires would cut down — but not eliminate — this cost.

“Overtime is something that wears on you and wears you out,” Anzivino said. “There will be some savings, but I can’t tell you what they are. We haven’t analyzed that.”

The issue raised by Councilman Roger Haas: how to pay for these positions given the current revenue base.

There’s a need to be efficient, Mayor Darrell Hinnant said, which must be balanced with the need not to burn out employees.

The staffing study compared the City of Kannapolis with other municipalities that are about the same size. But council wasn’t interested in those other cities.

“The question is, how many people does it really take to do the job in Kannapolis?” Hinnant said.

Anzivino said that his company had talked with department heads about the demands on city employees, and coupled that information with data culled from other municipalities — meant to give the city an idea of where it stands on staffing.

“There’s no one indicator,” Dragisich said. “It comes down to how to stack up against other organizations, with your assets.”

Haas noted that under the recommendations, the city would spend some $3 million over the next 10 years in new hires.

“With the population increase, are we in the same boat 10 years from now that we are today?” he said.

“You’ve got to adapt and change as they change around you,” Dragisich said. “You’re not ever going to get away from evaluating positions every year and maintaining your system.”

“It would be ideal to have the positions if you could afford them right now,” Anzivino said, “but it’s traditional to have a 10-year staffing plan to meet current needs.”

“You have to have a plan,” Dragisich added.

The city conducted its most recent classification and compensation study eight years ago.

“Many localities recognize classification and compensation systems are in need of assessment and update due to the changes in job responsibilities and a shifting labor market,” Anzivino said.

Noted City Manager Mike Legg, “It’s getting more and more competitive to keep employees, and more and more difficult to hire employees with our current compensation package as it stands.”

As an example, he said that in 2012, some 20 percent of the city’s employees left for jobs with better compensation packages, but that number increased to 53 percent in 2014.

“I see a lot of faces sitting out there who work hard every day,” Hinnant said, acknowledging the city employees present. “It’s not a matter of whether we need new employees — it’s where and how many. We’re trying to make sure we have the best information. We wanted this evaluation. We asked for it and we paid for it.”

Assistant City Manager Eddie Smith noted that while police and fire personnel get a lot of attention, events like this past weekend’s Jiggy with the Piggy festival in Kannapolis wouldn’t be possible without behind-the-scenes work by public works and parks and recreation employees.

Springsted’s recommendations will be folded into the 2016 budget proposal, which will be presented at 6 p.m. next Wednesday, May 20, at the train station.

In other business:

• Hinnant issued three proclamations: National Public Works Week is May 17-23; May is Motorsports Month and NASCAR Day is May 16; and National Police Week is also May 17-23.

“When you live in the safest community of our size in this state, you should be proud of these people in blue,” Hinnant said.

Police Chief Woody Chavis was visibly moved by the proclamation, which he accepted with five of his officers.

“We love what we do,” Chavis said. “This is not a job. This is a calling. These guys? They sacrifice. I love them all.”

Chavis quipped he was getting “too much air time” at the meeting, but he did want to recognize John and Torry Revels, who donated $1,950 to purchase two K-9 vests. Revels is a captain with the Kannapolis Fire Department. As of Monday, all five of the department’s K-9 officers now have bulletproof vests.

“What they did started a landslide in our community,” Chavis noted of the couple.

• Council members voted unanimously to direct the city clerk to determine the sufficiency of an annexation petition, and adopt a resolution of intent to annex 77.374 acres within the city’s Coddle Creek Planning Area. On behalf of the Faggart Family Trust, David and Gwen Faggart made the request for voluntary annexation. A public hearing on the annexation was set for June 8.

• The city recognized the spring 2015 class of Citizen Academy graduates. The nine-week class delved into the workings of all city departments. Parks and Recreation won the coveted Peacock Award for best presentation by a city department.

Freelance writer Susan Shinn lives in Salisbury.