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ODOT reaps pay raises

ODOT reaps pay raises

Oklahoma Department of Transportation reaps pay raises
Transportation Study says workers were underpaid
By GAVIN OFF - Tulsa World
Published: March 8, 2009

Of the 138 state employees who received at least a $10,000 pay increase since June, more than a third worked for the state Transportation Department.

Fifty-one transportation employees received at least a $10,000 salary adjustment, according to an analysis of Office of State Finance data.

Nearly 600 Department of Transportation employees saw a pay adjustment of at least $5,000, according to state data.

Payroll listed in the database does not include bonuses and overtime pay or pay for higher education employees. It does include base pay, wages for second shifts and money associated with promotions.

In all, 87 percent of the department’s roughly 2,400 employees received raises in recent months. The raises came after a market study showed some employees earned much less than in the private sector or neighboring states, said Brian Kirtley, director of human resources for the Transportation Department.

Who got the raises
"We’re almost forced to take these actions,” Kirtley said. "We’re always trying to make up ground.”

Raises averaged about 7 percent, though five employees saw their overall pay increase more than 40 percent.

Increases went to everyone from accountants and engineers to attorneys and welders.

Engineering managers, transportation managers and transportation specialists received some of the largest pay adjustments. Some of their raises totaled more than $11,000.

Still, the state is often outmatched by private companies, Kirtley said.

Since 1997, 1,466 ODOT employees have either resigned or transferred to a different state agency, Kirtley said.

Turnover peaks
The Transportation Department’s annual turnover rate has surpassed 10 percent for the past three years, and peaked at 12.37 percent last year.

"I do recall that some of their jobs were significantly behind market,” said Tom Patt, director of compensation for the Oklahoma Office of Personnel Management, the agency that provided the data for the survey and approved the adjustments.

Oklahoma state employees on average make 16 percent less than their market value, Patt said.

Since the increase in salaries, the department’s turnover rate has fallen to 11 percent, said Kirtley.

The increase is estimated to have cost about $7.78 million and increased the department’s personnel budget to $146.5 million.

Previous market adjustments by the Department of Transportation took place in 2001 and 2006.

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