CCMSD sticks to 3% salary increases
July 2, 2020
In the light of budget difficulties at all government levels in Wyoming, Trustee Sandy Neiman last week questioned whether it’s a good idea to pursue a 3% wage increase this year for employees of Crook County Medical Services District (CCMSD).
It was the general consensus of the board and management, however, that keeping wages competitive is vital to ensure the ongoing health of the district.
Neiman opened the conversation by pointing to pending budget cuts at the city, county and state levels. When it comes to CCMSD, she said, “Yes, the financials look very good now,” but will they stay that way?
Chairman Mark Erickson replied that it will become more difficult to retain staff if wage levels are allowed to fall behind. The quality of its staff has allowed the district to “dodge bullets” associated with operating in a dated facility, he said.
Meanwhile, he suggested that people are choosing to leave the healthcare industry due to the pandemic and this is causing competition between workplaces.
“Everybody is trying to steal from everybody because people that are willing to stay continuing to work in healthcare are in demand,” he said.
He suggested that CCMSD should be very conscious of this because, “We’re not even in the high range” when it comes to salary. CCMSD, he said, hovers around the midpoint of the salary scale.
“We are talking about retaining the skilled staff that we have,” he said, expressing support for the 3% increase because the district is now seeing more patients than it ever has and in a commercial organization you wouldn’t call a halt on your staffing while you were taking on more business.
Neiman pointed out that, at this time, it’s not possible to know what the total mill levy allocation will be for the district and decreases elsewhere could cause financial fluctuations, too.
“I don’t want to promise something that we can’t get,” she said.
Erickson reassured Neiman by reminding her of a previous conversation in which the board had decided that, “Just as anything, we will react to changes as they come along.” Otherwise, he said, “It’s like saying that we’re going to hit an iceberg” when there’s a lot more data saying we won’t.
Interim CEO Micki Lyons pointed out that losing staff would mean making use of more contract staff, which is much more expensive than regular staffing.
“That’s way outside of a 3% raise,” she said.
This would be a worry, she continued because, “When people feel like they are being devalued, they start looking elsewhere.”
Trustee Connie Lindmier suggested that the issue could be settled with the answer to one question: does the amount of income and the number of patients being generated by the staff justify the increase?
Lyons felt the answer was yes. It was also pointed out that a downturn in financials can be brought to the board and the matter considered again at that time.