Third contractor pushing county compensation study to finish line

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By AJ Vicens

Jeffco officials say an employee compensation study will come in on budget and just a bit late despite the parade of private contractors involved with the project.

The county is studying employee compensation so it can compare its pay to private-sector jobs and similar jobs in other counties. The project also is listing job duties for every Jeffco employee.

The project was launched in August 2008 and is scheduled for completion in early November. The results will be factored into the county's 2010 budgeting process.

County Administrator Jim Moore said the county signed the original contract for the project in the summer of 2008 and planned to pay Lee & Burgess Associates of Colorado $240,000. That company was unable to complete its work on time, according to county spokeswoman Kathryn Heider.

"They had problems in their company, and they did not complete the contract," Heider said, adding that the county didn't pay the firm.

A second company, Fox Lawson and Associates, was hired and did the bulk of the work studying job duties and requirements. More than two dozen employee panels each met several times during that part of project, Heider said, which stretched from September 2008 through May 2009.

Moore said Fox Lawson was paid $65,000 “before we terminated the contract." He didn't say why the contract was terminated.

A third company, The Waters Consulting Group, Inc., is now is completing the study and will work on job evaluation and market analysis, along with creating a final report for the county commissioners. That firm will earn nearly $180,000.

"The total cost is close to what we thought we were going to pay a couple years ago when we had a failed start," Moore said.

Heider conceded it was "probably unusual" for three contractors to be involved sequentially on a single project but defended the county’s handling of the situation.

She denied that employees are upset over the way the situation has unfolded, and said the only negative feedback concerned some employees who thought the study would be finished sooner.

"We have a question feature on our Intranet," she said. "Sometimes people will ask about the compensation study, and people did think it was going to be done sooner than it was."

The original plan called for the project to run from August 2008 to October 2009.

"It probably would have been more efficient if the first (contractor) would have come through with everything," Heider said.

Contact AJ Vicens at aj@evergreenco.com, and check www.columbinecourier.com for updates and breaking news.