The budget committee of the county commission put the finishing touches on the proposed 2016-17 spending plan during a meeting Tuesday night at the courthouse.
Copies of the budget will be presented to all other members of the county commission and a workshop will be held soon for them to review it as a group without a vote. A public notice will then be published and a vote to approve the spending plan will be taken at the next regular monthly county commission meeting on July 25.
As WJLE first reported last week, the new budget includes a new pay plan for employees who work for the county general department, except for the sheriff’s department which has its own wage scale.
Under the plan, employees of the offices of Trustee, Register of Deeds, County Clerk, Assessor of Property, County Mayor, Circuit Court Clerk, and Clerk and Master would get step raises at a percentage of what their employer earns. That doesn’t set well with most of these officials because their employees would not earn the same pay as employees of the county mayor’s office.
For example, Step 1 of the plan calls for the salaries of first year employees of the Trustee, Register of Deeds, County Clerk, Assessor of Property, Circuit Court Clerk, and the Clerk and Master to go from $24,182 (current wage) to $25,436 per year (39% of their employer’s salary). Salaries of the county mayor employees with one year of service would go from $24,182 (current wage) to $29,378 (39% of their employer’s salary).
Step 5, the top end of the plan, would have the salaries of eight year employees of the Trustee, Register of Deeds, County Clerk, Assessor of Property, Circuit Court Clerk, and the Clerk and Master to go from $26,432 (current wage) to $28,697 per year (44% of their employer’s salary). Salaries of the county mayor employees with eight years of service would go from $26,432 (current wage) to $33,144 (44% of their employer’s salary)
Circuit Court Clerk Katherine Pack, who addressed the budget committee Tuesday night, believes the proposal isn’t fair to her employees. “ Just because Tim (Stribling)makes more than I do doesn’t mean his employees work any harder than mine do. Let’s just take a thousand dollars increase. That amounts to between $27 and $30 dollars a pay period. I appreciate and they (employees) appreciate anything that they get but its almost like an insult to say you're going to get a good pay raise but when you put it down to a pay period, its less than $30 dollars per pay period,” she said.
Pack is also concerned that the budget committee took action on this pay plan without inviting the county officials to the meetings to discuss it. “My feelings have been hurt over this because we weren’t consulted or anything. We had to read it on WJLE as to what you were doing,” said Pack.
Trusee Sean Driver is also upset. “I don’t know what I have done against the budget committee but I would like to have known that this was being discussed about my employees. I will put my employees up against anybody’s. It’s my understanding that Mr. Stribling wanted to discuss this with the elected officials three weeks ago but I don’t know what happened between that time and now. We thought that everything would be transparent. Evidently it’s not. This difference between one office compared to six offices, the majority usually rules but in this case I guess it doesn’t. I disagree with it but I sure would liked to have known this was going to happen and I am disheartened about it,” said Driver in addressing the budget committee.
“I’m sorry we didn’t ask you to at least attend and talk about it,” said Budget Committee member Jack Barton.
Under the existing pay plan adopted four years ago, many employees topped out right away because of their years of service without getting any further raises since. With this new plan, Barton explained that employees of these seven offices would get an increase every time the state gives their bosses (county officials) a pay raise along with the regular step increases. “I’m disheartened that in four years time there has been no opportunity for anybody to get a raise so to me tying to those adjusted increases the state passes on to your office, or Tim’s office, or whatever, makes sense. In the last four years, your associates would have gotten two raises by now that we would not have had to vote on,” Barton said.
“Instead of giving raises on a whim, we wanted to tie it with something that separated us from saying “hey what are we going to do this year? We’ve got a formula now,” added Budget Committee member Larry Summers.
Members of the Budget Committee even mentioned the possibility of adding another step to the plan next year if funding is available.
Clerk and Master Deborah Malone and Assessor of Property Scott Cantrell were also at the meeting Tuesday night in support of their employees.
According to the new scale, the step raises for employees of the Trustee, Register of Deeds, County Clerk, Assessor of Property, County Mayor, Circuit Court Clerk, and Clerk and Master offices would be as follows:
STEP 1: 39% of their employer’s salary -1 year of service
STEP 2: 40% of their employer’s salary-2 years of service
STEP 3: 41% of their employer’s salary- 3 years of service
STEP 4: 42% of their employer’s salary-4 years of service
STEP 5: 44% of their employer’s salary-8 years of service
Meanwhile the Library Director, Election Commission Office Employee, and Soil Conservation Secretary would be on the same scale (as noted above) with their salaries being a percentage of $65,221 which is what the Trustee, Register of Deeds, County Clerk, Assessor of Property, Circuit Court Clerk, and Clerk and Master earn.
Full time library employees and the Senior Citizens Director would get a percentage of $65,221 based on the following scale for them:
STEP 1: 31% of $65,221- 1 year of service
STEP 2: 32% of $65,221-2 years of service
STEP 3: 34% of $65,221-3 years of service
STEP 4: 35% of $65,221- 4 years of service
STEP 5: 37% of $65,221-8 years of service
All part-time County General Employees would be paid $10.00 per hour.
Custodians would get a 2.158% increase in pay
The director of the Landfill would get a salary of $42,000 per year.
Landfill employees would get the following rates of pay:
Drivers with Commercial Driver Licenses (CDL):
$13.00 per hour for 1 year of service
$14.00 per hour for 3 years of service
$15.00 per hour for 5 years of service
$16.00 per hour for 7 years of service
Laborers would get the following rates of pay:
$12.00 per hour for 1 year of service
$13.00 per hour for 3 years of service
$14.00 per hour for 5 years of service
$15.00 per hour for 7 years of service
Convenience Center employees would get $8.50 per hour
Ambulance service employees would get a 4% raise except for the director.