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Salary increases hinge on outcome of budget debates

POSTED: August 25, 2014 1:17 p.m.

A pay raise for Barrow County employees was a point of debate last week as Barrow officials iron out details for a new budget.

County officials discussed avenues for providing raises last week as they look to have a new budget in place by October. The 2015 proposed budget suggested waiting to see if there is enough surplus revenue from 2014 before deciding to increase pay.

Some county leaders, however, said that using surplus money could put employees in a similar situation when the county had to take back raises because of the economic downturn.  In 2005, the “Archer Study” provided comparable salaries for county employees, but after a brief jump in pay employees have not seen any new increase.

Since salaries are reoccurring expenses then it’s risky to use a one-time surplus to provide raises, said Chairman Pat Graham, who said she hopes to provide a cost of living increase.

“I don’t want to end up in a situation where we are giving someone a raise and don’t know if we can sustain that,” she said at last week’s budget workshop.

County Manager Randall Dowling, who helped put together the proposed budget, said it’s difficult to predict surplus revenue but with the economy improving that he believes that “a salary increase is sustainable in the future.”

A "budget climate" section notes that the county's tax digest and other revenues have begun to stabilize.

A 1 percent increase for county employees would cost $168,000 while a 2 percent increase would be $335,000, Dowling said.

The goal with reserves is for it to be around 30 percent of the general fund budget, he said.

Currently, that rate is at 26 percent with a proposed general fund budget of $36 million and $9.5 million in reserves.

Commissioner Kenny Shook described using surplus money for raises as a “slippery slope.” He said that surplus money should be used in areas such as road projects or purchasing new vehicles.

“I’m not really big on kicking things down the road,” Shook said. “It’s one topic I think bears a lot of conversation in workshops over the next few weeks.”

County officials will have its second budget workshop Thursday as part of its regular meeting. The meeting will take place at 7 p.m. inside the historic courthouse.



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1 comment
Hmmm: August 27, 2014 9:52 a.m.

Really, the county can't fund EMS positions (Public Safety) and the BOC is trying appease its constituents on the payroll with a merit-less across the board pay raise.

Really, you take from those that make to pay those that take and regulate. If the employed cast can make more elsewhere...


This is a America, no one capable of making more is kept from making more



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