Consultant Declares Town Staff Underpaid, Overworked


September 8, 2014

A consultant hired by the Town of Cape Charles has reported that town staff salary ranges are “significantly lower” than in comparable regional organizations. The consultant warned that because salaries are “below average market rates,” Cape Charles may experience difficulty hiring and retaining employees in the future.


The town paid Richmond consultant Springsted Inc. $8,400 to conduct the salary study, which entailed comparing Cape Charles town salaries with those in other municipalities. However, Springsted Senior Vice President John Anzivino said they were unable to obtain information from any other town on the Eastern Shore, including Onancock and Chincoteague. Most of the comparisons are with towns closer to Hampton Roads and Richmond, although both Northampton County and Accomack County salary schedules were obtained.

Springsted’s proposed salary schedule recommends increases for every town position surveyed, with more than half the town’s workforce currently earning less than even the minimum proposed salary for their grade.

The report recommends a maximum salary of $87,900 (not including benefits) for the Chief of Police, the Director of Public Works, the Treasurer, the Harbor Master, and the Code Official. Anzivino emphasized that the actual salary earned by a town employee was not considered — instead it is the salary range of the position that matters. That’s because a new, inexperienced employee will be paid much less than a long-time, seasoned staffer doing the same work.

The report suggests a maximum salary of $72,300 plus benefits for the Assistant Town Manager, the Town Clerk, the Town Planner, and the Librarian.

Maximum salary for the Wastewater Plant Operator in Charge would be $68,900.

The Recreation Coordinator could earn up to $65,600, while the Public Works Supervisor would see a maximum salary of $62,500.

Springsted also recommended that the town hire additional support staff in order to free up department heads for other duties. A “lack of internal support” has caused inefficiencies, with department heads forced to prepare their own reports, conduct research, answer phones, and conduct administrative support functions, Springsted found.

A new Administrative Assistant should be hired for the Police Department, Planner/Zoning Administrator, and Public Works and Utility Director, Anzivino said. Additionally, a Permits Assistant should be hired for the Building Code Official, who currently must prepare his own reports and correspondence. When the Code Official is doing inspections in the field, there is no one in the office to issue building permits, Anzivino noted.

A new Police Officer should be hired to relieve the Chief of some patrol duties, “allowing him to plan, direct and train staff more frequently,” the report recommends.

“Retention of a part-time Assistant Town Manager on a continuing basis” was also urged in the report, and Anzivino suggested to Council members that the Assistant Town Manager position could grow into a full-time position.

At a September 4 Town Council work session, Anzivino drew a parallel with Ocean City, where a cadre of seasonal employees is maintained. A number of these employees live in Florida, he said, and return each summer to work in Ocean City. Cape Charles could consider something similar. Anzivino also noted that the increase in staff could occur over time, as needed — “particularly if Bay Creek takes off real quick,” he said. “You have a lot of talented people in the community who may enjoy a part-time job.”

The Springsted survey compares Cape Charles employees with those working for Accomack County, Northampton County, and the towns of Kilmarnock, Smithfield, Warsaw, West Point, and Windsor, as well as the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel. But not all those entities have equivalent positions, so comparisons were with as few as three, two, or even one other employer. For example, the position of Wastewater Plant Operator in Charge was compared with only one, unnamed, other employer, and the Wastewater Treatment Plant Operator had only two comparisons. The Recreation and Community Event Coordinator had three comparisons, and the Town Planner position had four. The survey does not contain the names of the employers for the comparisons.

Anzivino would not estimate how much it might cost the town to carry out his recommendations for both salary hikes and increased hiring, but Town Council member Sambo Brown said that town financial staff should be able to derive a figure.

Councilman Frank Wendell questioned why the Springsted survey excluded the town manager — especially given that the current town manager has resigned. Anzivino replied that it is “common practice” to omit the town manager because she serves at the pleasure of Town Council.

Council member Chris Bannon told Anzivino that “we hear, ad nauseam, that we’re overstaffed. Would you care to make a comment?”

“I would not say you’re overstaffed,” Anzivino replied, and Council member Joan Natali added, “I would say we’re understaffed, according to your recommendations.”

Anzivino had high praise for the new town treasurer, particularly her computer software expertise: “For a town your size to have someone like that on top of the game is very unusual,” he said.

Council member Tom Godwin questioned why no local towns responded to Springsted’s survey request, and wondered if it could be because they didn’t want to reveal their pay scales. But Anzivino said it is common for municipalities to make that information public. “If you go on websites such as for Fauquier County, they’ve got their whole pay plan and all their personnel policies on their website,” he said.

Cape Charles Town Council authorized $8,000 for the Springsted salary study plus $2,300 in expenses, but Anzivino said at the work session that the total cost was only $8,400, meaning that his expenses incurred in conducting the study were only $400.

Town Council has also hired Springsted to conduct a job search for a new town manager, which will include a suggested salary range.

CLICK to read the Compensation and Position Classification Plan.

CLICK to read the Organization Management Review.



12 Responses to “Consultant Declares Town Staff Underpaid, Overworked”

  1. Thomas D. Giese on September 8th, 2014 9:49 am

    I wish the University of Richmond would have hired this firm before I retired. Nothing like more money for less work!

  2. Deborah Bender on September 8th, 2014 9:59 am

    If I understand this correctly Mr. Anzivino claims we are understaffed. This is the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard. We are a town of less than 1,000 full-time residents. Mr. Anzivino claims to have sent a survey request to Onancock, which by the way has more full-time residents than Cape Charles does, and they didn’t respond. Does Mr. Anzinino know how to make a simple FOIA request? The truth here is that Cape Charles didn’t want to be compared to Onancock. Two years ago I called every town on the Eastern Shore that was comparable to Cape Charles, and every town gave me all the information that I requested. Last year I went to the Town of Onancock’s office, unannounced I might add, and the town manager sat down with me and answered all of my questions. For over $8,000 it seems to me that Mr. Anzivino could have made a visit to Onancock.

    This town is overstaffed by a mile, and every resident knows it. Many times I have heard local residents say when they go into the town office most of the employees are sitting at their desks doing nothing. We don’t need more employees; we need to cut spending and staff. A town this size with both a manager and an assistant town manager is ridiculous.

    Mr. Anzivino wants to compare us to towns in the Hampton Roads area. We are a tiny town on the Eastern Shore, not Hampton Roads. Seems to me that Mr. Anzivino has given a report that was practically dictated to him by our town Manager and the assistant town manager.
    An assistant for our building code enforcer is a joke. There is very little building going on these days. If our building code enforcer needs an assistant, we need a different building code enforcer. The fact is we don’t need a building code enforcer at all. We could easily let the Northampton County building inspector do it all. We are already paying for the Northampton County Inspector by way of our county taxes.

    A recreation director? Another joke of a job. The only town comparable to Cape Charles with a recreation director is Chincoteague — a much larger town than Cape Charles with far more tourism.

    Our town has become a “tax us to death” dictatorship. We are basically paying taxes to support an overblown staff that can’t seems to perform more than one job. I for one would like to know why we have hired an outsider to find a town manager? What are we paying our current town manager and assistant town manager for? Isn’t it their job?

    Our new town manager needs to LIVE IN THE TOWN! It’s not right for a town manager to make rules and raise taxes on the citizens when they are not even affected themselves.

    This wage study and management is a joke. We have now spent another $8,400 for exactly what the town dictated. The citizens of this little town need to wake up and say ENOUGH IS ENOUGH! If the people working for this town don’t feel they are making enough money they need to go elsewhere. They can all be replaced.

  3. Don Bender on September 8th, 2014 10:24 am

    Number crunching redneck style — If there are 999 fulltime residents and around 40 employees that means there is 1 employee for every 25 citizens.

    My wife and I had a pretty busy weekend. Could “my” employee stop by today and do some dishes and laundry please?

  4. Andy Spagnuolo on September 8th, 2014 11:11 am

    If what the Wave writes is true — “unable to obtain information from any other town on the Eastern Shore,” then the study is flawed and questionable. This should have been a study of our peers and similar work/infrastructure on the shore. Check the demographics for Accomack and Northampton counties. The average government salary in Northampton County is higher than the average private sector salary. It is just the opposite in Accomack County, which by the way enjoys lower taxes and substantive public service.

    No need to take the Wave’s word for it — read page 4 of the Springsted report (CLICK) which lists the municipalities they asked to complete the survey and then notes which ones did not respond. Curiously, the report doesn’t specifically state which ones DID respond, but it’s a simple process of elimination. –EDITOR

  5. Jeff Walker on September 8th, 2014 11:11 am

    Technically it is not taxes paying for the building inspector in Eastville. Most of that person’s pay is generated by user fees in the form of fees for building permits. Hopefully the fees are sufficient to cover expenses without the taxpayers of Northampton subsidizing it via their taxes.

  6. Dana Lascu on September 8th, 2014 7:06 pm

    In colloquial research parlance, “garbage in, garbage out” is how we assess analyses that compare apples to oranges. It would take some convincing that we are comparing apples to apples before we should even look at this data. Speaking of the data, perhaps the company could have charged us a round $10,000 to deliver nicely-readable tables rather than program printout vomit.

    Personally, I’m happy if we pay market salaries – even above market for the police. We just need decent data.

  7. Marion Naar on September 9th, 2014 9:39 am

    I cannot judge the monetary results of this survey. However, for comparison purposes it would be difficult to find a small town which supports a large harbor, a public beach subject to direct Chesapeake Bay weather, a long fishing pier, directly adjacent railroad, library, aging housing stock, and economically diverse citizenry. Population figures do not recognize the time and skill that goes into maintaining Cape Charles’ rather unique infrastructure. The improvements in harbor, beach, pier, and housing stock in the 20 years I have lived here are commendable.

  8. Stephen K. Fox on September 9th, 2014 9:58 am

    The salary study is misplaced. These comments are in no way meant to lessen the importance of Town employees or their leadership. The study obviously is based upon comparing like positions in other locations. However, it fails to recognize that Cape Charles and the Eastern Shore do not have a stable employment base to support the level of salaries recommended. The study does not appear to take into consideration the local economy — or reality.

  9. Steve Downs on September 9th, 2014 4:14 pm

    In a word, bull$&!*. Thank you.

  10. Sgt. Jockamo Rasputin USMC Retired on October 3rd, 2014 1:35 am

    Mrs. Bender — perhaps 999 full time residents, if that. But don’t forget the out of town visitors, part time residents, tourists, patrons of the Shanty, Kelly’s, the beach, Aqua, the Harbor, the rowdy Accomack crowd, etc. If you’re the only cop on duty, that 999 figure means very little.

  11. Deborah Bender on October 4th, 2014 3:05 pm

    Sgt. Rasputin — if you think we need all these employees for this little town you should apply for a job. I never said anything about the police department, so please reread what I did say. I have a feeling you don’t even live in Cape Charles because if you did and you went into the town office you would KNOW we are overstaffed by a long shot.

  12. Tony Sacco on October 4th, 2014 5:32 pm

    I agree with Deborah Bender in every word. Let’s let Eastville be the only Government for Northampton, eliminating double taxation, double police and other double departments. We have to reduce government expense and move to a new Comprehensive Plan that will produce high paying jobs for our college graduates. Bring back our tax dollars that we are forced to send to other states like Maryland, increasing their employment rolls instead of ours. Sending our tax dollars to another state is the biggest scam ever perpetrated on Northampton, and our Supervisors approved it in their camouflaged way of doing business.