A new pay scale recently adopted by the City Council, and the job descriptions being written to match it, will form the basis for a merit raise system city officials hope to roll out later this year.

Mayor Rick Ramsey said the merit raise system will replace across-the-board raises the city historically has given, providing incentives for employees to perform at their best rather than becoming apathetic over time.

Ramsey said he hopes, “barring any economic collapse,” to give merit raises averaging 3 percent across the board in December, with employee evaluations determining whether and how much each employee receives.

“We’ll determine the number of employees in each department, what 3 percent would be and give that lump sum to the department head to distribute based on merit and the evaluations,” Ramsey said.

Each of the 60 job classifications included on the scale tops out at 150 percent of the starting pay rate, except for those positions whose salaries are set by the council, such as mayor and police chief, or by the mayor, such as the city attorney.

All existing employees’ salaries fall within the minimums and maximums set by the pay scale, although some employees have more room for advancement within their current job classification than others, Chief of Operations Fred Raiford told the council before it approved the pay scale on Aug. 10.

Those employees who reach the top of the pay scale at their current classification can seek promotion to positions with higher pay ceilings, using the job descriptions as guidelines for which positions they might be qualified to fill, Ramsey said.

The job descriptions and pay scale also will aid city officials in hiring new employees, he said.

Follow Heidi R. Kinchen on Twitter, @HeidiRKinchen, or call her at (225) 336-6981.