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Raises planned for corrections officers

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Parity for certified corrections officers is next on the county commission’s agenda.

“We asked these people to be patient,” Commission Chair Rhonda Wallace said. “They were patient. They stayed with us, they’re good employees and they’re underpaid.”

Funding is included in the board’s 2018 budget, which is slated for adoption Dec. 12.

The draft presented Tuesday called for the three-year phased increase to start at the end of 2018. Commissioners, however, asked for a revision to implement the raises July 1 instead.

County Manager Jamie McCord said the plan would affect 112 positions — mostly in the work release center and departments such as public works and animal control, where officers oversee inmate work crews.

The cost to the county is expected to be $236,000 over three years.

The amount of each raise is based on the employee’s education, total years of service and years of service in a specific position. It’s aimed at making pay rates for their positions comparable to what those employees can earn elsewhere.

The adjustments are separate from the merit raises that will be available to all employees.

“We’re doing this to bring our wages up so they’re competitive in the marketplace,” Commissioner Scotty Hancock said. “Not all of them are out of whack.”

The phased-in adjustments for the police and sheriff’s officers were calculated to add $612,35 to the county payroll. McCord said when the corrections officer adjustments are fully implemented, the total for both initiatives would be nearly $1 million a year.

All five commissioners agreed on the funding during a budget review at their Monday caucus.

“We’re committing to the three-year plan,” Commissioner Wright Bagby Jr. said.

No millage rate increase is proposed for next year.

Finance Director Susie Gass said the 2018 budget is projecting a 2.5-percent increase in the tax digest — the value of taxable property within the county.

Commissioners also went over the big-ticket items scheduled for purchase in the capital fund next year.

Gass said departments and agencies submitted requests totaling $7.5 million. Money from the general fund will be used for about $1.9 million and another $2.3 million will come from grants, SPLOST revenue and other allowable sources such as the jail surcharge fund. The other requests are not funded.

The police department will get four replacement vehicles and the sheriff’s office is slated for three.

Among the other budgeted expenses are upgrades to the Thornton Recreation Center — “to make it more attractive for rentals,” McCord said — video interpreting equipment for Superior Court, a remodel of the library conference room and handicap-accessibility improvements to the judicial center.