County passes pay plan

Published 12:00 am Thursday, October 17, 2013

It will be the middle of next week before the county’s 150-plus employees know where they fall in the 15-step pay plan commissioners approved Wednesday.

The classification and pay plan, while not openly discussed by commissioners, has been in the works for months.

Chairman Bill Godwin said department heads and commissioners agreed Friday on the final plan, which consists of a schedule of pay rates from minimum to maximum assigned to each class. Commissioners also approved a policy to handle promotions, transfers, demotions, cost of living adjustments, overtime, on-call procedures and pay for the road department, safety incentive pay and direct deposit for pay.

Commissioners, with the exception of Dist. 3 Commissioner Harold Elmore, voted for the plan; however, all agreed to evaluate its effectiveness in six months.

Godwin said the plan – which means a raise for the employees – will be implemented in the Oct. 27 pay period.

Commissioner Joe Barton said the step plan means employees will see an average of 3 percent increase in pay.

“Some more, some less depending on where they fall in the plan,” he said.

In addition to the increase in pay, a 5 percent increase in insurance premiums will not be passed along to employees.

“The county is going to absorb it all,” Godwin said. “So, technically, it’s like an 8 percent increase for some.”

Commissioner Carl Turman said voting for the plan was a “hard decision to make.”

“The way I see it is that we’ve depended on FEMA money for the last four years, and unless something unfortunate happens – God forbid – we’re fixing to be on thin ice (financially).

“We’re (implementing the plan) for two reasons,” he said. “One, we have to keep people working; and two, to treat everybody right.”

Elmore voted “no” on the measure because he said road department employees who are not on-call should continue to have take-home vehicles; however, commissioners said it wasn’t fair that those employees get that “perk” in addition to a raise.

The measure is not an annual step plan. Instead, raises shall be “dependent on specific recommendations of the appointing authority” (i.e. department head) and must be approved by the chairman and chairman pro-tem. Department heads may submit a request for a one-step merit increase based on an employee’s overall job performance, which must be reviewed by the county administrator to determine if funds are available within the department’s budget.

Before the new plan was approved, county employees could receive a raise if they had completed their probationary period, had been promoted, or been granted a raise at the discretion of a department head, County Administrator Brenda Petty said.

She estimated the annual cost of the new pay plan between $150,000 and $175,000 since individual employees have not yet been placed into specific classifications. Godwin said commissioners and department heads will determine those spots in the coming days.

To view the county’s classification/pay plan, click here.