County Mayor Mike Foster has called for a meeting of the budget committee and department heads hoping that a solution can be reached over what type of wage scale, if any, should be established for county general employees.
No pay raises were included in this year's budget, other than for employees due a raise in a four tiered salary pay scale for the Sheriff's Department which was implemented last year to bring their salaries in line with other law enforcement agencies in the area.
County officials, both in the courthouse and at the county complex, support step increases for their employees based on years of service, provided it can be funded without a property tax hike. But they have disagreed with Foster on his idea of using job classification as a criteria. Their belief has been that job titles would be divisive and kill morale and unity of county offices.
Foster, during Monday night's county commission meeting, said he still believes job classification should be a consideration in whatever wage scale is established. "It was our intent that we do that (wage scale) for all (county) departments. So far we have not been able to do that. But I think we're at the point where we need to do something one way or the other. I'm open for suggestions as to what you (county commission) think we need to do and what committees need to be involved and where we go from here," said Foster.
"It is my suggestion that we set up some meetings with department heads and the budget committee and see if we can't figure out where go," said Foster. "We've got two people (county employees) that have worked less than a year, seven people that have worked one year, three people that have worked two years, five people who have worked three years, seven have worked four years, nine have worked five years, six employees have worked six years, one has worked seven years, two have worked eight years, one has worked nine years, two have worked eleven years, three have worked twelve years, two have worked thirteen years, one has worked fourteen years, and one has worked sixteen years. Under our current way of doing things, if you're in the same job classification, if you work one year or fourteen years you make exactly the same penny. I think that's wrong. I think we're at a point where the budget committee needs to decide what they're going to do, up or down. Let's move on or do nothing, whichever its going to be," said Foster.
"I think its prudent to meet with the department heads," said second district commissioner Jack Barton. "Being on the budget committee, I want the employees to feel comfortable coming to that meeting as well and speak out. There may be some folks in the county that may disagree one way or the other and they may not be comfortable speaking in front of who they work for but I want to get all opinions," said Barton.
No date has yet been set for that budget committee meeting. Any recommendation for action by the budget committee would be sent to the full county commission for final approval.