Q: If I work in Shawnee County KS, which is just outside Kansas City, and will be covered by the new GS Kansas City-Overland Park-Kansas City MO/KS locality pay area, will my WG-5 wage automatically increase to the same level as that paid to WG-5 employees whose duty station is Kansas City?
A: Unfortunately, the short answer to your question is no, you will not automatically be making the same rate as the WG-5s whose duty location is Kansas City. What it does mean is that you will get the same percentage increase in your wage rate as the WG-5s in Kansas City will receive.
The new budget bill and the memorandum from OPM released on Friday, 18 December, basically provide for one new benefit. The same increase in pay that your GS colleagues in the same geographic area will get. The increase probably will be larger in the Kansas City locality pay area than it will be in the RUS locality pay area that covered Shawnee County until the new provisions went into place. Since Shawnee County now falls within the new Kansas City locality pay area, that is the increase rate you will get.
Sadly the new budget bill and the memorandum from OPM did not authorize lead agencies to equalize the basic wage rates within the wage areas. So the lead agency, typically DOD, will take the rates being paid during FY-2015 in Shawnee County and increase them by the rate of increase that will go to the Kansas City locality pay area rather than the rate going to those covered by RUS.
I looked at the DOD website today, 27 December 2015, to see if the new Wage Schedule for your area is posted, and I didn’t see it. Because it looks like the new wage schedule in your area should go into effect sometime around mid January, you may want to check back from time to time to see what the new rates will be. You can find wage schedules at: http://www.cpms.osd.mil/Subpage/AFWageSchedules/.
Sorry I don’t have better news for you, but you should get a somewhat larger increase when the wage schedule goes into effect than you would have if Shawnee County had continued to be covered by the RUS locality pay area.
For additional details on this subject, also see Federal Wage System Increases in 2016.
Wayne Coleman is a federal pay expert available to help your agency avoid premium pay claims through on-site training. Contact him for more information.