The Switzerland County Council held a special session on Tuesday night, October 3rd, to discuss salaries and pay increases for county employees for next year.
Those present included council members: Glenn Scott, Elizabeth Jones, Mike Bear, Andy Haskell, John Gary Welch, and Lisa Fisher; and County Auditor Gayle Rayles.
Council President Scott opened the floor to discussion. Rayles suggested that she start by explaining the two reports she had prepared.
The first report was a pay matrix, similar to what the sheriff’s department and the jail are now using. She said it was suggested at the last council meeting that the council begin using a matrix, and what she presented was a starting point. The idea is to avoid paying a new employee – who has no experience – the same amount of salary as the person whose job they stepped into.
The second report was what it would look like if the council gave each full-time employee paid out of the General Fund a flat increase of $350. The part-time employees would receive a smaller amount. She pointed out that there are a few employees who will receive increases regardless: the chief probation officer, the juvenile probation officer, sheriff, and matron. These are salaries set by the state, the judge and the sheriff.
Rayles went on to explain that some of the increases for elected officials and employees were highlighted to indicate that she was not certain if the council would like to consider something different.
There were two additional requests for increases outside the $350 amount for the council to consider.
Council member Jones asked what other counties pay. Rayles said that there is a book that gives some of that information, based on 2016 salaries, that she can use to help determine that. The discussion was on other counties our size and she said the book is divided by population. If the book does not give the information needed, she may need to reach out to other auditors in counties our size.
Councilman Haskell asked where Rayles came up with the starting salaries for the matrix. She said she took what the position is currently paying and backing into a figure that seemed reasonably less than the current amount. She mentioned that new hires with experience could be started at pay level warranted by the experience they bring to the job.
There were discussions on a variety of topics dealing with salaries, including: Who is considered hourly? SCER increases; Exempt employees; Comp time; and Time cards.
Haskell said he would like to sit down with the department heads and discuss what the department is responsible for and individual employees’ duties.
Jones suggested that the council work on perfecting the matrix for 2018 to be used for the 2019 budget.
Fisher made a motion to increase the payroll/accounts payable clerk’s’ salary $1,650 and the auditor’s salary $1,500 for one year; Bear seconded the motion. Fisher and Bear voted in favor; Scott abstained; and Welch, Haskell, and Jones voted against the motion, so it failed.
Rita Brogan spoke about the firm that did the job descriptions years ago not understanding the volume of work or responsibilities. They suggested that anyone with a title was who should receive the greatest compensation.
Gayle Sullivan said she had money in her Title IV-D fund that she could use to give her staff for raises.