Of those, 29 are existing locality pay areas. The council added Buffalo-Niagara-Cattaraugus, N.Y.; Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, Ariz.; and Raleigh-Durham-Cary, N.C., for 2006. The council voted unanimously to approve the inclusion of the three areas.
At the same time, the council voted to drop Kansas City, Mo., Orlando, Fla., and St. Louis as separate locality pay areas, merging them into the "Rest of the United States" designation. Officials had determined that the pay gap between these areas and private sector salaries was not significant enough to warrant a separate pay area.
"Even though there are about 35,000 General Schedule employees in these three areas, we regretfully conclude that the areas should be discontinued as separate locality pay areas in 2006," according to a report from the FSC working group.
The Office of Personnel Management received requests from federal employees in 14 regions seeking to be included in locality pay areas. A Federal Executive Association-representing Yuba and Sutter counties in California-petitioned the council to be included in a locality pay area. Council members rebuffed these efforts, citing a failure to meet established criteria.
"None of these locations passes the applicable criteria for inclusion in a pay area recommended just last year by the council," said Mary Rose, the council's vice chairwoman. "After a great deal of study, the working group recommends that the council no consider making any changes based on these contacts."
The council gave the most attention to the Yuba and Sutter petition. Under recently approved criteria, the two counties needed more than 1,500 General Schedule employees to become eligible for inclusion in a locality pay area. The region has only 539 GS employees, however, triggering the rejection.
Other areas that were considered and turned down were Charlottesville, Va.; Cumberland County, Maine; El Paso County, Colo.; San Luis Obispo, Calif.; and a cluster of cities in central Colorado, including Vail, Aspen and Beaver Creek.
During the meeting, officials also noted that budget cuts at the Bureau of Labor Statistics have impeded the data collection that supplies the pay gap information.