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What might Warren County find at the end of its compensation study?



As reported in a related story about the loss of a high percentage of experienced public school teachers locally, the Warren County Board of Supervisors has authorized a compensation study designed to bring county government employee salaries into competitive line with surrounding Northern Valley communities. See Related Story

The county decision came on the heels of the Town of Front Royal’s own compensation study, the result of which was received earlier this year and resulted in adjustments to the Town’s FY2018-19 budget to begin implementation of recommended salary adjustments.

The county government hired the same Maryland-based company, PayPointHR, as the Town used to conduct its study.  The Town paid $25,750 for its Compensation and Classification Study.  With a considerably larger employee base including public schools, emergency services and a countywide law enforcement apparatus, Warren County Human Resources Manager Jodi Saffelle notes that the County and School Board are splitting the cost of their survey, each paying $34,000 for a total study cost of $68,000.

Some experienced County employees, like Town employees earlier this year, can look forward in the coming fiscal year to being told they should get raises if their employer expects them to stay put for an extended period of time. Photos/Roger Bianchini

Stay with me here, the math portion of this story is going to get worse – BUT I am doing the dirty work for you.

The result of the PayPointHR recommendation to the town government was town council adoption of a shorter-term three-year implementation plan (there was a five-year option as well).  The three-year implementation is estimated to cost Front Royal a total of $367,707 over three years.  The break-down given by Town Manager Joe Waltz was $123,815 in the first year (FY2018-19) and $121,946 in each of the following years.

That implementation package was estimated by the town manager to impact 90 of the Town’s total of 175 employees (164 fulltime and 11 part-time), or just over half.

Numbers from County Human Resources Manager Saffelle indicate a total of 337 County employees (212 fulltime, 85 part-time and 40 seasonal); as well as a total of 936 public school employees (791 fulltime and 145 part-time).  As noted in our related story there are 432 teachers within those school system numbers.  Saffelle elaborated that there are 93 sheriff’s office employees within that 212 county employee total.

The County compensation study will include that rather large employer at the south end of the WCGC – Warren County Public Schools

Numbers game

Now not setting out to scare anybody over at the Warren County Government Center, but by this reporter’s best calculating – yep, that smell is my shoes and socks coming off again – including the public school system the County has a little over 7 times as many employees as the Town – 1,273 to 175.

Were the Town number of about 50% of employees qualifying for an increased compensation recommendation to hold true on the County side, that number – rounded down to precisely 50% – would be 636 impacted employees, or about 7 times the 90 impacted town employees.

As stated above, it is estimated to cost the Town of Front Royal a total of $367,707 to implement its compensation and classification study recommendations for those 90 employees: 90 goes into 636 just over 7 times – again we’ll round down to the County’s benefit (and mine, I hate fractions); so: 7 x $367,707 = $2,573,949 for a comparable salary adjustment to what the Town agreed to enact for its qualifying employees.

AGAIN, there is no guarantee the Town and County impacted numbers will equate percentage-wise – after all, this is an exercise in theoretical mathematics for two municipal entities of differing characters.

Field of Dreams?

However, in addition to dealing with its own administrative staff, larger law enforcement apparatus and fire and rescue departments staff turnovers, it appears the County is now at a crossroads on a long-term operational commitment for those impressive state-of-the-art new and renovated public school facilities funded through Warren County Capital Improvement Projects (CIP) over the last decade-plus.

With a nod to the classic baseball film “Field of Dreams” (I know you were wondering how I was going to wrap this up) the question is, “Now that you have built them (new school facilities), how do you get them (teachers) to come” – AND stay past their rookie and learning-curve seasons?

The writing appears to be on the “outfield wall” – I think I can just make that writing out: It says, “You must at least match offers with the Royals (Winchester), Rebels (New Market) and Express (Strasburg) in the Valley League, if not MLB’s Yankees and Dodgers (let’s say Loudoun and Fairfax Counties), to get them to come – and stay.”

A failure to heed this advice means those more experienced teachers, not to mention sheriff’s deputies, professional emergency services personnel and administrative employees will continue to fade like ballplayers’ ghosts into that cornfield past the outfield wall, never to be seen in our Field of Dreams again …

Pay them and they will not vanish into the ‘Field of Dreams’ cornfield somewhere off to the left – Photo/JoeyBLS at English Wikipedia



  1. Newman

    August 3, 2018 at 6:35 pm

    I am not sure why WC School board can’t do their own compensation study. The salary rates are listed on every county’s website. Is it just too simple to compile this data and then make some comparisons? Ohhhh…that’s right. The Superintendent hired all of his unqualified friends and is too busy playing the spin game in his Chairmanship of the EDA.

  2. Kenneth

    August 3, 2018 at 9:32 am

    Why didn’t the Town and County proceed with the study together? Likely could have gotten a better price.

    As for the results, they were (for the Town) and will be (for the County) entirely predictable. We certainly can not compete with Alexandria, Arlington, Fairfax, Loudon, and Prince William. However, the Cost of Living in those localities is considerably higher than in Warren County (that is why there are so many commuters.

    And, of course, there will always be some turnover, for a variety of reasons. Every beginning teacher or Rookie Patrol Deputy will not work 30 or 40 years at the same job.

    My solution: increase everyone, across the board, by 2.5% (just about matching the inflation rate) and provide a logical promotion ladder, by which some might attain higher rank or standing (but remember, everyone can not be Chief of Police or Superintendent of Schools).

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