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City council approves job classifications for new positions

Exterior of Portland City Hall pictured with a Transgender Pride flag hanging in a window
After we reported on ordinance 1052 in December 2023, council voted to create five new classifications that don't exist currently in the City of Portland’s classification structure.

Classifications are necessary to create the new positions for integration into the budget process and alignment with the council-approved organizational chart. On Dec. 13, council voted 3-2 to approve this ordinance, which included the classifications of the city administrator, deputy city administrator, assistant city administrator and new staff positions in the future mayor’s office. Watch the council discussion on YouTube

Read the ordinance here.

Original story

At Wednesday's city council session for agenda item 1005, Commissioners Ryan and Gonzalez asked the presenters (representatives from the City’s Charter Transition team and the Bureau of Human Resources) for more information relating to the list of job classifications under consideration. As a result, the ordinance status was changed to non-emergency and will be given a second reading at next week’s Dec. 13 council meeting. The ordinance was assigned a new number, agenda item 1041.

In November 2023, Portland City Council approved a new organizational structure to unify all services under the leadership of a city administrator. The new structure includes five new job classifications for which official classification specifications and pay ranges do not exist currently within the technical systems of the Bureau of Human Resources. The creation of these classifications is a necessary first step towards establishing the new positions to integrate them into the City's budget development process and, later, recruitment.

To align with the policies established by the city council and based on a classification and compensation review, the ordinance directs the Bureau of Human Resources to create five new non-represented classifications and establish compensation rates. These new classifications will position the City to implement the organizational changes in accordance with the timelines outlined in the Charter. Any additional positions, such as aides and administrative support, will be created using existing classifications. 

The City seeks to pay the market average when developing pay ranges for new classifications. This is a common standard among many organizations. While this is the ideal, the reality of existing pay ranges already in the structure require adjustments to the market average. This ensures compression is minimalized and classifications have pay ranges that align with their relative authority, scope, and responsibility relative to others.   

The industry best practice for setting compensation is for organizations to follow an established compensation philosophy and apply consistent methodology to set pay ranges for a defined body of work to ensure an objective, consistent process with equitable results. The HR Administrative Rule 8.04 Compensation guides the work of the Classification / Compensation team and allows a place for budgetary input in accordance with the policy. When organizations face budgetary pressures they typically reduce scope, reduce positions, freeze position movement (promotions, reclasses) and/or freeze annual adjustments, but do not amend pay ranges.

The difference between the terms “classification” and “position”

Note that classifications are broad descriptions of a body of work. Pay ranges are attached to classifications based on market considerations and internal alignment with the existing pay structure. Positions are individual jobs filled by and specific to one employee. That employee is paid anywhere along the pay range based on the City’s pay equity program. One or more positions is aligned with a classification.

New classifications and pay ranges require council approval

Developing classifications and recommending pay ranges for new bodies of work is a common practice for the City’s classification and compensation professionals. The ordinance directs the creation of the following classifications and pay ranges:

Job ClassPay Range
City Administrator$268,632 to $371,592 annual full time
Deputy City Administrator$204,880 to $307,299.20 annual full time
Assistant City Administrator$139,464 to $210,787.20 annual full time
Mayor’s Senior Aide$90,001.60 to $134,992 annual full time
Mayor’s Aide$62,961.60 to $115,128 annual full time

The broad descriptions of work and pay rangesfor council aide classifications are aligned with current commissioner staff representative classifications and do not require council approval. 

The new classifications were based on direction from the amended City Charter and the new council-approved organizational structure led by a city administrator, examples of classifications from other municipalities and collaboration with the transition team about the new roles and responsibilities of leadership in the new organizational structure. In their scope of work, the Classification and Compensation team at the Bureau of Human Resources took on the following:

  1. Create new classifications (city administrator, assistant city administrator and deputy city administrator) for the new City organizational structure.
  2. Evaluate existing classifications to determine if modifications are appropriate. (mayor’s aide, mayor’s senior aide, council aide, council senior aide)
  3. Determine pay ranges for all new and modified classifications to align with the new City organizational structure. Pay ranges for new classifications take market conditions of comparable classifications in organizations of similar size, the situation of associated positions in the organizational structure, and alignment with classifications in the current structure with similar duties and responsibilities into consideration.

The final rates proposed are the result of market research to ensure that pay ranges for the City's new classifications are competitive and will serve to attract and retain talent. These rates also align with the City's existing compensation structure and ensure an appropriate gap in pay between subordinate and supervisory positions.

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