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In the season of giving, Natrona County employees get a holiday bonus and pay increases for some

The Natrona County Courthouse in Casper.
J. Stephen Conn
Flickr via CC BY-NC 2.0
The Natrona County Courthouse in Casper.

Natrona County will give 277 of its employees a boost in pay with all receiving a holiday bonus. This comes after a months-long study that indicated some were not being compensated at the market rate for the positions.

“All part time and full time benefit eligible employees will receive a $650 Christmas bonus, so everybody will receive something,” said Danielle Kruchek, Director of Human Resources for Natrona County.

Additional pay increases were also approved this summer , though not all employees will receive an increase this time around.

“They all received something in July, so it was either a one dollar increase per hour if you made less than $70,000 a year; if you made $70,000 or more per year, then you got a three percent increase,” she said. “There are 77 employees who will not receive anything. They are already within market [rates] and that was the whole point was to get all employees up and be competitive with their respective job titles within the market.”

These raises only apply to the immediate internal county departments, not other county entities.

“We have outside boards as well, the Board of County Commissioners, they elect the outside board members for [things] like the airport, the public health department, the library, and so those are considered outside boards,” she said. “We just did the immediate internal departments. So we did road and bridge, parks, maintenance, IT. We did the coroner's office, the sheriff's office, the clerk's office, Clerk of District Court, the assessor's office, legal and human resources risk management. So just the immediate internal departments.”

Pay boosts were approved by Natrona County Commissioners, and those will increase the county’s payroll by $1.3 million. No new taxes were required for the increase.

Turnover, while not a pressing problem, is one thing that higher pay could address, in addition to employee retention and even increasing the attractiveness of county jobs.

“I wouldn't say that we have had an issue with turnover. We're average, we pulled our turnover rate, and we were under the 20 percent I think the last time I pulled it. We were at 17 percent,” she said. “We're below the Wyoming state average, but still, that's 17 percent, and turnover is expensive.”

The effects on the pay increases have already had an impact on the financial situation of employees.

“I can tell you that I did have an employee come to my office this morning and let me know that he had been looking for a position,” Kruchek said. “He had some changes with his own personal financial situation and, with the inflation, needed to find a job where he'd make more money, and now he won't have to leave, and he's been with the county for 10 years. So we would have lost one of those key employees had we not done this.”

Prior to this year, the most recent pay increases occurred in fiscal year 2019. Due to issues with a salary study that was never completed, the county experienced discrepancies in their accounting.

“Back in 2007, a company was hired to do a formal wage study. Just like I did, I pretty much just updated their formulas, and put everything together,” she said. “So they did this study back in April of 2007 [and] it would be implemented for the beginning of the fiscal year 2008. The commissioners never followed through with it and they have never done a formal market study since, so that's why we had inequities, compression issues. And now, hopefully, it'll be all sorted out, and we're just going to have to keep up with it every couple of years so that we don't fall back into the same tactics.”

There’s a wide range of what some employees are set to receive compared to others. In some cases, employees are set to receive thousands of dollars in increased pay due to the current market rates.

“You look at the city of Casper, you look at Campbell County, you look at Laramie County, you can look at all of the state data, that's how far they were lagging behind [salaries] for those positions,” Kruchek said. “So, it truly just kind of depends on the position and where it was in the market. Many of the clerks who just started if they don't have a full two years of service, if they're under two years of service, we were starting them at $15 an hour. In July, we increased our start to $17 an hour. And then if you had been here a year, and when you're here a year, you get another dollar. So those people are up to $18 an hour. They're fully within market now.”

Employees will receive their bonuses and pay increases on Nov. 30, which is the next payroll date.

Hugh Cook is Wyoming Public Radio's Northeast Reporter, based in Gillette. A fourth-generation Northeast Wyoming native, Hugh joined Wyoming Public Media in October 2021 after studying and working abroad and in Washington, D.C. for the late Senator Mike Enzi.
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