Washington Evening Journal
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Neighbors Growing Together | Aug 1, 2014

Jefferson County Conservation Board suggests 2.5 percent pay raise

By Andy Hallman | Dec 11, 2013

FAIRFIELD — The Jefferson County Compensation Board unanimously recommended giving salaried county employees a 2.5 percent raise at its meeting today.

The seven-member board debated for about 15 minutes about the size of the raise and whether it should be across the board or if some employees should receive more than others. The board decided to recommend an across-the-board increase.

In 2012, the compensation board approved a 4 percent pay increase for all county department heads except the county attorney, Tim Dille, for whom it recommended a 5 percent pay increase. That year, the board recommended the supervisors receive a 2.5 percent pay increase.

Mel Allen, representing the sheriff’s office, remarked that the consumer price index, used to measure the cost of living, had not changed much from the prior year and that it had risen about 1.6 to 1.7 percent. He said a 2 percent raise for county employees was most appropriate in light of that fact.

Ben Huff, who was elected to be the board president earlier in the meeting and who represents the board of supervisors, noted the supervisors’ pay is ranked 31st in the state, which is higher than the ranking of most other Jefferson County departments. He asked the rest of the board if it was therefore appropriate to increase the supervisors’ salaries a little bit less.

At the same time, Huff acknowledged that the supervisors’ pay ranking might not take into account the number of supervisors in the county. Counties that divide the supervisors’ workload into five positions might compensate their supervisors different from those counties that divide the work into three positions as Jefferson County does.

Andrew Edlin, representing the auditor, said giving the supervisors a different increase from the rest of the county employees two years in a row might send the message the compensation board disapproves of their performance, and he did not want to give the supervisors that impression.

Gloria Countryman, representing the board of supervisors, asked her colleagues if any employee had done such exemplary work that they deserved a raise above the rest of the employees. Allen said he did not think so.

Edlin asked if the board should give special treatment to employees who have served in their position for many years. When he has brought up the issue before, he said the other board members were against the idea of longevity bonuses. No one at the meeting spoke up in favor of longevity bonuses.

Edlin suggested the pay raise should be between 2 percent and 2.5 percent. Tom Louden, representing the treasurer, was more comfortable giving the county employees a 3 percent raise. Allen said he could go along with a 2.5 percent increase but that 3 percent was too much.

In addition to electing Huff to be the president next year, the board elected Countryman to be the vice president and Melva Dahl, representing the recorder, to remain as the secretary.

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