There are several points of conflict going on among Polk County Commissioners in their quest to approve a 2017 budget. However, as I understand it, there is a major point they have reached an agreement on. Here is the background:
Although a raise to employees was voted for in 2008, it was never implemented because of the weak economy. In 2013 budget contains funds to bring those who worked for the county but did not receive any raises from 2008 – 2012 up to the correct level. It also provides for an overall raise of 1.25%. I believe the board agrees on this point.
Here are the issues causing the problem:
A motion to discontinue the positions of Assistant County Manager and Receptionist (commission office) was made.
2. The motion further allowed to use the money saved by elimination of these 2 positions for an additional 1.25 percent raise to all employees.
The motion was approved 3 to 2 – Barber, Hulsey and Tillery in favor, Thaxton and Ward opposed.
The commission chairperson, putting her opinion above others, vetoed the passage of the motion.
Now, there is a stalemate and the 2017 budget is in limbo until a solution is reached.
I would like to offer a suggestion. The commissioners should go ahead and pass the 2017 budget with the exception of the two positions and the additional 1.25 percent raise. The employees could then receive the raises that are not in dispute immediately. The commissioners can continue to argue over the two positions for as long as they want.
Of the two positions, the Assistant County Manager seems to be the point of conflict. Here are some points to consider:
1. Three commissioners do not think an assistant is needed (Mr. Tillery presented information showing that many counties, even bigger ones, do not have an assistant.)
2. Some want to raise the salary for this position to $75,000. The previous assistant made $53,000.)
3. That would be a raise of over 40 percent while the workers get only 1.25 percent. I have not been able to find out who made that motion, suggestion, or whatever for this.
4. This point can be debated for a long time, if needed, the employees need their raises NOW.
I suggest that you contact your commissioners and urge them to move forward on this budget and the employee raises. The employee raise should not be used as a bargaining chip to try and get the position of assistant county manager.