Several County Officials Differ with Mike Foster Over Pay Scale Issue

August 28, 2012
Dwayne Page

Establishing a wage scale for county general employees remains under consideration by County Mayor Mike Foster and members of the county commission, but so far no plan has been formulated.

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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.

In June, Foster told WJLE that he hoped to have a wage scale for other county employees in place by later in this budget year. "We hope to institute a step system based on job classification and years of service. That would be primarily for all county employees, especially where there are like positions throughout the county," he said.

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 are at odds with Foster on his idea of using job classification as a criteria.

On Tuesday, Register of Deeds Jeff McMillen, County Clerk Mike Clayborn, Trustee Sean Driver, Circuit Court Clerk Katherine Pack, and Clerk and Master Deborah Malone issued the following statement to WJLE as a group " We as county officials have only asked for step raises based on years of service. At this time, we don't feel that job classifications are in the best interest of DeKalb County. It is our belief that job titles will be divisive and will kill morale and unity of the county offices. Government will not efficiently operate without all offices working together. Therefore, we would hate to see anything done that would undermine this spirit of unity that exists now."

Aside from the elected office holders or appointed administrators, the number of employees in the courthouse and county complex offices are as follows:

County Mayor: two employees
Circuit Court Clerk: three employees
Clerk and Master: one employee
Election Commission office: one employee
County Clerk: three employees
Trustee: two employees
Register of Deeds: two employees
Assessor of Property: three employees

Each employee is budgeted to receive the same amount of pay $23,024 per year except for one of the employees in the assessor of property's office who receives $28,579. Under an agreement reached years ago, the salary for this employee's position was set at a higher level because he uses his own personal vehicle for making on-site reviews of property and is responsible for his own expense associated with that vehicle other than a county reimbursement rate for mileage which is currently 47 cents per mile for travel within the county.

During Monday night's county commission meeting, Foster reiterated his position that job classification should be taken into consideration. "Some counties are like us where nearly everybody makes the same amount of money. Some of them are grossly different from ours. We've got to do a lot more work before we try to figure out what we're going to do. A lot of that is going to be up to the department heads to come up with job descriptions so that we can implement the step raises. There's obvious differences in some of the positions. Some of them (employees) have been there a long time. In my office, I've got one (employee) who has been there for eleven years and one who has been there for one year and they make the same exact amount (salary). I agree that its probably not appropriate but that's the system we're under right now but I think we need to work to make some corrections but we're not ready to vote on it tonight. We will work on that and work with the department heads and see if we can come up with some solutions," said Foster.

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