West Chester employee gets $10K raise to keep him in township

The West Chester Twp. trustees gave their development planner a $10,000 raise last week because he was offered another job elsewhere and was making below his peers in the area, they said.

Tim Dawson has been with the township for five years and was making $59,098 annually, the trustees bumped his salary to $70,000 on Tuesday. The range for his position in this area is $70,000 to $90,000, according to Township Administrator Larry Burks. He said he doesn’t want to lose him to Warren County, where he was offered a higher position and a “significant pay increase.”

“Tim has significant knowledge of the township’s current state and historical context,” Burks said, noting the market range for a development planner. “Administration concluded the most beneficial and cost-effective option is to attempt to retain Mr. Dawson in his position.”

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The township has never, at least no one can remember, given someone a large raise to keep them from being poached before. Trustee Lee Wong said this was an exceptional circumstance.

“Every case is different, not everyone is oh yeah, because I got a job I give you $10,000,” Wong said. “No, no it depends upon the value of the work. Not because anyone that put in an application someplace oh let’s give him a raise.”

Trustee Mark Welch said Dawson is a key member of the development team because he “interfaces” with the developers new and old, businesses and residents who want build new, expand or change their properties or need help with the zoning codes.

Welch said Dawson makes sure people know the township is “business friendly” and instead of just saying “we can’t do that” if a problem arises, will find a solution if possible.

“He is for a lot of intents and purposes the face of West Chester for a lot of these developers,” Welch said. “So it’s important we have somebody in there that has the right mindset, who has the right character and who is going to follow what we want to accomplish in West Chester.”

Trustee Board President Ann Becker also said Dawson is the face of the township for the development community and his work is “exemplary.” The township is embarking on an in-house salary study update this year, to make sure wages are still fair and competitive.

“The job market is getting tight not just for the private sector but for the public sector,” Becker said. “We have to make sure that we are keeping the best people on the team for West Chester. We need to make sure we’re paying what we need to pay to keep a high quality staff for the residents.”

About four years ago West Chester Twp. trustees commissioned a $45,000 study of township wages and benefits, because the township’s minimum pay ranges hadn’t changed in 10 years, and maximum pay ranges had stayed the same for seven years.

The Clemans Nelson study prompted the township to adjust the ranges and salaries were adjusted in 2018. Most positions on the lower end of the spectrum were not adjusted by much, but those at the director level were. The minimum wage range increased 16 percent from $68,800 to $79,976 and the maximum was boosted 17 percent from $106,801 to $125,070.

As a result of the range changes, several employees were given pay rate increases to get them back in the range for their position. The total impact was only $51,560 out of a total payroll of $18.5 million without benefits and $26.5 million including benefits.

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