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July 21, 2016

Salary pool hiked 1.5%

Pitt trustees have approved a 1.5 percent increase in the salary pool as part of the University’s fiscal year 2017 operating budget.

The 1.5 percent pool will provide a 0.75 percent increase for employees evaluated as satisfactory and above; 0.5 percent for distribution at the unit level for merit, market and equity; and 0.25 percent for distribution by senior vice chancellors to address merit, market and equity imbalances, Arthur G. Ramicone, senior vice chancellor and chief financial officer, told the University Times.

The budget allocates an additional 0.5 percent for targeted distribution by the provost and senior vice chancellor, Health Sciences, to address merit, market and equity issues among certain faculty.

And, for the second consecutive year, the board provided an extra boost for the University’s lowest-paid employees.

The FY17 salary pool includes an additional 0.5 percent for employees with satisfactory performance who make $45,000 or less.

Approximately 40 percent of Pitt employees fall into that pay range, Ramicone said.

That extra 0.5 percent provides up to an additional $225 per year for employees at the lower end of the salary scale. At the $45,000 threshold, a 1 percent increase equals $450 per year.

FY16 raises, which were delayed while the state budget was being completed, also included an additional 0.5 percent for those earning less than $45,000. (See March 31 University Times.) And a one-time payment awarded in December in lieu of raises retroactive to the start of the fiscal year provided an amount equal to 1 percent of the base salary for those earning more than $45,000 and 1.25 percent for those below that threshold.


The overall salary pool exceeds inflation, although not all employees necessarily will see raises that keep pace with the cost of living.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported last week that the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) rose 1 percent (before seasonal adjustment) for the 12 months ending in June.

Staff Association Council President Rich Colwell said he was pleased to see the extra 0.5 percent for people earning less than $45,000.

“It helps give them a chance to catch up with the costs of (health insurance). Without that, they’d be in a stagnant state,” he said.

Monthly premiums for Pitt’s health plans increased 4.8 percent this year, but a $100 wellness incentive was offered to offset the increase. (See April 28 University Times.) As of July 1, employees’ monthly contributions for Panther Gold, the most popular health care plan, rose to $74 for individuals, $179 for parent/child(ren), $259 for two adults, and $352 for families.

Said Colwell: “I still would like to see all people who meet satisfactory standards get an above-inflation raise,” he said, noting that some staff who earn more than $45,000 might not receive raises that exceed inflation.

University Senate President Frank Wilson characterized this year’s budget deliberations as “very serious.”

“I’m grateful that we at Pitt haven’t had to take the extreme kind of hits like layoffs and salary cuts that other places have experienced,” he said.

“Of course faculty and staff are not going to be overly thrilled with a small salary pool.

“I like that we’re giving an extra half-percent in the salary pool for the lower-paid employees. I think that’s good symbolically, but of course I recognize that does not close any kind of gap between those at the top and the bottom.

“I think that we’re aware that’s a potential problem over the long haul and I would say I feel good that in the last couple of years we have focused on that in our budget discussions, and that we have made some progress.”


Pay raises will be seen in September paychecks, retroactive to the July 1 start of the fiscal year, Ramicone said.


Additional changes to some University employees’ pay are on the horizon.

Ramicone said the University put a $1 million “placeholder” into the FY17 operating budget in anticipation of changes in the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) that are scheduled to take effect Dec. 1.

The new federal regulations will raise the salary threshold for mandatory overtime pay from the current $23,660 per year to $47,476.

University officials have estimated that about 2,000 positions need to be analyzed to determine whether to increase salaries or pay overtime for those affected by the changes. (See June 23, 2016, University Times.) Ramicone said analysis is underway within the units and notifications will be made unit by unit.

Whether the $1 million estimate is too much or too little, “We’ll just have to wait and see,” Ramicone said. “We’ll have better information by next budget season to put in a more accurate, specific budget amount in.”

—Kimberly K. Barlow

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