- Associated Press - Tuesday, July 7, 2015

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - About 550 engineers in the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet have received raises averaging 20 percent in a plan to curb high turnover and costly contracts for private engineers.

The pay increase took effect June 16 and will cost about $7.8 million a year, The Lexington Herald-Leader reports (https://bit.ly/1H75xbc).

The raises follow an order from Kentucky’s 2014 General Assembly for the state to make the Transportation Cabinet salaries more competitive with similar jobs in surrounding states and private businesses.

“Alarmingly high turnover in many of our engineering classifications has had costly consequences,” Transportation Secretary Mike Hancock said in a statement. “We have witnessed an exodus of our best talent for significantly better pay and benefits being offered by private engineering firms, highway contractors and even some of our local governments.”

Hancock said that among the 11 categories of engineers who received pay raises, the departure rate in 2014 was 33 percent, compared to 22 percent throughout state government.

Design engineering has been hit especially hard, Hancock said.

Fifteen years ago, he said, the cabinet performed 70 percent of its design engineering work in-house. Today, 70 percent is performed by outside consultants.

“The cabinet is paying a consulting firm a premium for their work - in some cases more than double the in-house cost,” Hancock said.

Cabinet spokesman Chuck Wolfe said the money for the raises is expected to come from savings in those contracts used to hire outside engineers.

The entry salary level for an assistant state highway engineer in Kentucky last year was $58,188. It was $128,503 in Connecticut, $72,324 in Tennessee and $62,100 in West Virginia.


Information from: Lexington Herald-Leader, https://www.kentucky.com

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