MOBILE — The City of Mobile is facing challenges in hiring and keeping employees, according to data revealed Tuesday during the regular council meeting. There are currently around 170 vacant positions citywide.

Councilman Scott Jones requested a committee meeting to address raises and studies previously discussed. He said he wanted to see what the impact of being 170 employees short was for the citizens of Mobile.

"Are there any changes that we need to make?" Jones asked. "And what does that look like, and recommendations from the administration to the city council that we can address during that?"

Mobile Mayor's Chief of Staff, James Barber told the council that preliminary results were in from a Competitive Compensation Study by Evergreen Solutions. The results show there is a need for increases in salary in some areas.

"Because of the raises given by the city over the past 10 years, we were not in as bad of shape as we were, but since it's been since 2005, we are out of whack in certain areas," Barber outlined. "So, not everybody is due for an increase, but there are certain positions, as far as professional or trade positions, that we do have to make adjustments in."

Evergreen assesses the classification schedule and needed changes in job duties, titles, salaries and benefits, and internal relationships within organizations. The results determine whether salary and compensation schedules are competitive with comparable employers.

Council president C.J. Small said he recently attended the National League of Cities, where he took a class on the retention of public safety employees.

"Compensation is one of the things they were talking about is how to retain them and how to get them," Small said. "Because you've got so many people that's leaving the public safety, fire and policeman. So, we need to make sure that we do an overview to make sure that we keep up so we can retain our officers."

Because of the lack of filled jobs, the city has an extra surplus of funds in the budget. Council members also discussed whether to spend surplus money in the budget now on projects that could improve conditions for citizens or to hold off and wait to see what will happen with the economy. Councilmen Cory Penn and William Carroll voiced support for looking into how to spend the money now.

The results of the Evergreen study are being discussed with the personnel board.

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