West Chester Twp. trustees approve $165K for raises

West Chester Twp. trustees approved a pool of $165,070 for non-contract employees Tuesday, including a $4,432 raise they gave Administrator Larry Burks, bringing his total salary to $152,193.

Each year the township awards a pool of money to be distributed for merit pay for non-union employees, this year the amount is 3.5% or $160,638 for 87 positions. The amount also includes $16,971 for raises for part-time firefighters and inspectors. The performance raise range for these employees is 1% to 4% and Burks received a 3% raise, last year he received a slightly better bump at 3.17%.

Trustee Mark Welch said last year the three trustees each assigned Burks a raise percentage and took the average. This year the performance review was more “qualitative.” He said Burks is strong in the area of economic development and has a good management style.

“His management style I think really changed the culture at the township, giving more authority, putting more trust in the directors,” Welch said. “That’s also my management style, I would rather empower somebody to do their job and then let them surprise me with their ingenuity about things I ask them to do.”

Trustee Lee Wong said the township is in “good shape” with Burks at the helm, “jobwise he met the standard, he’s fine” and “we’re going to keep him, he’s going to be there for a while.” He said Burks could improve his communication skills with the trustees.

Trustee Ann Becker could not be reached for comment but her brief performance evaluation said Burks keeps her “up to date with issues and plans for the Township with quality and timely communication” and she also mentioned his economic development and team building skills as positive accomplishments.

The individual raises will be awarded this summer. Last year the total pool of non-union raise money was $155,518 and 75.23% of it was spent doling pay hikes as of the end of June.

Keeping salaries competitive has long been a goal of the township but Welch said that is not the only factor that keeps staff content and on board.

“There are lots of things besides money that interest people, if we’re always just chasing the dollar and want to be at the top of the pay scale for townships then we could do that,” Welch said. “But money is one component, there are things like work environment, teamwork, feeling a part of the team, recognition and these are things we are working on in the township to give someone that feeling that they belong. That’s just as important as a raise.”

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