The county board of commissioners held the first of a series of work sessions about making changes to the county employee pay scale.
The BOC agreed recently to implement a pay freeze while they review the pay scale.
They discussed salaries and pay levels in the emergency medical services department, the E-911 office and the appraisers’ office. The board discussed pay grade classifications that cover entry level salaries, but chairman Anthony Dove pointed out that most employees make more than those amounts since those pay levels are for new hires “off the street” with little or no experience.
The board discussed adding a few new classifications to the appraisers’ office and increasing the pay difference between EMTs and paramedics in the EMS department, agreeing that paramedics deserve more pay. They also discussed increasing the pay of higher-level dispatchers in the 9-1-1 office.
Commissioner Stanley Thomas cautioned fellow commissioners that they need to be careful not to set entry level pay for certain jobs at more than what current employees make now.
The BOC plans to meet with E-911 director David Camp and EMS director Jason Lewis at their next work session, which will likely be some time next month. Commissioners indicated they would like to get some basic information from them to help establish starting levels of pay.
“This is not about raises for their employees,” Dove said. “This is just to get input from them.”
Chairman Dove said there are four departments — the sheriff’s office, jail, EMS and the road department — that have million dollar budgets. The sheriff, like other constitutionally-elected officers, can set pay for his own employees, as long as they stay within their allocated budgets.
The board plans to meet with constitutional officers once the new pay guidelines are in place to encourage them to stay within those guidelines in their departments to avoid having salaries for comparable jobs that are way out of line with each other.
The BOC decided to conduct this review after they heard numerous complaints about pay discrepancies among county workers and agreed to work to establish clearer guidelines on how employees are paid.
After considering establishing a committee to handle the employee pay review, the board scrapped that idea in favor of dealing with the issue themselves.
Since January 2013 the county has awarded 78 raises, including increases to employees under constitutional officers, totaling over a quarter of a million dollars in increased salaries, though not all of that money represents new expense, since some of those funds were already in constitutional officers’ annual budgets.