About 25 Edgartown town employees turned out for a meeting of the personnel board Monday, most expressing strong objections to a new classification and compensation study that will affect their salaries.

The town contracted with the Edward J. Collins Jr. Center for Public Management at the University of Massachusetts at Boston to update job descriptions, evaluate job classifications and recommend a new pay scale for town employees. Most Island towns conduct compensation and classification studies every three to five years, but Edgartown has seen a long gap in its study of pay scales and job classifications.

According to personnel committee chairman Suzanne Cioffi, the last complete study was done in 2001. That study was rejected by the town and never adopted. A consultant was hired in 2003, 2006 and 2011 to make limited adjustments in the town’s compensation plan.

“This process is disruptive and difficult,” human resources coordinator Elaine Graves said. “I understand that it’s upsetting.”

The new study calls for a 12-step pay scale ranging from $19.75 to $25.18 per hour for the first job classification, and $43.76 to $55.80 for the top job classification.

Much of the objection at Monday’s meeting came from department heads who felt their assistants were wrongly classified. Town accountant Kimberly Kane said if adopted, the classification and compensation plan would put her at a disadvantage in hiring employees.

“If you look at Tisbury or West Tisbury, I can’t be competitive, because those towns are at a considerably higher grade,” said town accountant Kimberly Kane. “It should be revisited.”

There was also confusion about the job classifications of assistant and administrative assistant.

The Collins Center study cited in general an extensive methodology for arriving at the pay scales, including questionnaires with employees, interviews with employees and department heads, and comparisons to similar towns. The report acknowledged such studies are challenging.

“Clearly, all Island towns are comparable because they are on the Island, but size, wealth, development, economic and income factors are not all the same,” the report said. In an effort to broaden the comparable information, the towns of Falmouth and Mashpee were also included in the survey.

Shellfish constable and marine biologist Paul Bagnall criticized the lack of specifics in the methodology.

“I’m at a disadvantage,” said Mr. Bagnall. “I’m a scientist, I’m a numbers guy. I kind of want to know what my number is. I don’t know how my job was compared to these other towns. I don’t think we were very well served.”

Selectman Arthur Smadbeck urged the personnel board to adopt a policy that no job should be downgraded from its present classification or pay grade.

“There is no one in Edgartown that I can think of that’s doing less work than they were five years ago,” he said.

While some positions were downgraded to a pay level below the current job holders, the personnel board said no one would be taking a pay cut and everyone in town would receive a pay increase.

The plan must be approved by voters at a town meeting. Selectmen are due to sign a warrant on Feb. 13 for the April 11 annual town meeting. That puts the personnel committee in a time crunch for returning all the employee comments and objections to the Collins Center for revision. The committee discussed presenting the compensation and classification plan at a special town meeting later in the spring, but prior to the end of the fiscal year on June 30.

“I don’t believe this will make it to the annual,” said Ms. Cioffi. “I think this will have to go to a special town meeting.”