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Barrow officials ask BOC for employee pay raises

POSTED: August 27, 2014 1:00 p.m.

Several county officials and department heads spoke out Tuesday about the need to see their employees get better pay.

The heads of the Emergency Services, Barrow County Sheriff’s and Superior Court Clerks offices told county leaders that they are losing valuable employees because of poor pay. County officials said they would continue to examine the possibility of increasing pay after six years of stagnant compensation for Barrow workers.

County officials will also have to decide if there will be any change in property taxes after a report last week showed there was a 1-3 percent increase in the tax digest.

BCES Interim Director John Skinner said his department has numerous employees making less money than they did in 2005. There has been a 12.4 percent turnover rate so far this year with 10 resignations in BCES and a 35 percent turnover at the 911 center, he said.

"I know all the other departments are dealing with the same situation," Skinner said at Tuesday’s county commission workshop.

Commissioners are aiming to vote on the 2015 fiscal year budget Sept. 23 that will go into effect Oct. 1. The budget includes a $36 million general fund budget, which is a 4.2 percent increase from 2014.

Another budget workshop will take place Sept. 7 at 7 p.m. and a public hearing is scheduled for 7 p.m. Sept. 9.

Sheriff Jud Smith said he’d like to see county employees receive a 5-10 percent bump in pay, which would put them closer in line with other law enforcement agencies.

It costs the county on average $5,000 for the necessary training and other standards that have to be met before someone can work for the department. In many cases an employee will be trained by the BCSO and leave for another agency that pays better, he said.

"Our hardworking employees have endured pay cuts and increased insurance costs," he said.

Several county leaders reiterated their comments from last week that they want to see a pay increase, but that the proposal in the 2015 fiscal year budget of possibly using surplus revenue was not reasonable. Using reserves could put employees in a similar situation when the county had to take back raises because of the economic downturn.

"We’ve got to make sure that when we do this we do it correctly," Commissioner Isaiah Berry said. "We need to put our heads together, and not to promise you that we’ll give you 5 percent, but look at the economics of this and see if we can work it out."

Superior Court Clerk Regina McIntyre said the responsibilities for the employees at her office have drastically increased yet they are still earning the same amount of money.

"The morale in my office is extremely low," she said. "In the past year I’ve lost three employees due to them being able to get a higher paying job."



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