West Center

The Green Valley Recreation Board of Directors will consider raising the starting pay for employees from $12 to $15 per hour during their July 1 meeting.

GVR's Board of Directors will consider raising the organization's minimum base pay from $12 to $15 per hour on July 1. It would be the first GV- mandated minimum increase in at least four years. 

The Fiscal Affairs Committee voted, 6-3, Tuesday to recommend the increase after interim CEO Jen Morningstar raised the issue. If approved, all GVR employees making less than $15 per hour would be raised to that level.

Board president Don Weaver said Morningstar would present more information July 1 about how many employees the increase would affect. Morningstar said the increase under consideration is only for those employees making less than $15 per hour, and that compression factors are not part of the discussion.

Compression refers to new employees earning equal to or more than existing employees or shrinking the pay advantages of higher-level personnel.

Weaver said past and future merit increases for higher-level employees would help compensate for compression. He also said employees getting $15 per hour wouldn't get immediate increases on top of the raise.

Morningstar said GVR needs a minimum increase to keep the organization competitive.

"Even the places in Green Valley, we're finding that we're not quite as competitive with them as we used to be," she said. "The goal is to find people who want to come here and want to stay here because it's a great place to work. And part of a great place to work is that we're paying them an attractive compensation."

Weaver said increasing GVR's minimum base pay is long overdue. Morningstar wasn't sure when GVR last raised its minimum wage but said it was in 2015 or 2016.

When Arizonans passed Prop. 206 in 2016, raising the minimum wage from $8.05 to $10 per hour, then-CEO Kent Blumenthal told the Green Valley News it didn't affect them because GVR was already at $12 per hour.

However, GVR's starting pay advantage in the marketplace has shrunk over the years from nearly $4 per hour to now equaling the state-mandated minimum wage.

Weaver said getting back some of that competitive edge is a priority for him.

"I've been a member of the Chamber of Commerce, and I know what wages are being paid throughout this area," he said. "And I've heard from Jen and the staff on how difficult it's getting more and more to hire people. It's a real challenge, and it's something we should have done before now."

Weaver said finding long-term employees is only going to get more complicated as Sahuarita expands and big stores attract more of the labor force with increased pay to meet COVID-19 demands.

On Wednesday, Target announced it was raising its starting pay to $15 per hour beginning July 5. Target also said it would give a one-time $200 bonus to front-line employees in recognition of service during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Morningstar reported a 16 percent employee turnover to the FAC, which she attributed to COVID-19 and said it was higher than usual.

FAC chair Donna Coon said the recommendation included paying for the initial raise, which would go into effect immediately following board approval, through GVR's emergency fund. However, she said that using the emergency fund would be a temporary move, and future funding for the raise would eventually be part of the upcoming budget.

Whether the increase would impact member dues is unclear. In addition, Coon said it was too early to tell whether member dues would go up next year amid uncertain impacts due to COVID-19 closures and changes.

GVR's fiscal year follows the calendar year, and budget talks, including the fee schedule, won't begin until fall.

In the meantime, Morningstar said offering minimum wage isn't providing GVR with the edge it needs to maintain its most valuable asset – the employees.

"You can go anywhere and get a job for minimum wage, that's not my goal," she said. "My goal is to attract good people who want a long-term placement. It's only better for our members because they see a familiar face and know if they have a question, you can take care of me because you know me."

Jorge Encinas | 520-547-9732