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The county clerk’s and sheriff’s pleas for pay increases beyond the 3 percent raises set for county employees next year went unanswered at the Friday, Dec. 14, Carroll County Fiscal Court meeting.
Instead, the two elected officials were told a committee will be formed next month to review salaries and look at the pay concerns raised by County Clerk Alice Marsh and Sheriff Jamie Kinman.
Fiscal court voted on each of their budgets and voted to trim spending on salaries to cover the across the board 3 percent raises it plans to give all county workers.
In the county clerk’s budget, Marsh included a 13 percent across-the-board-increase to adjust the overall salary scale. She said she did a survey of salaries in neighboring counties and discovered workers in her office are paid less than those in Trimble, Gallatin and Henry counties.
According to Marsh’s comparison, a worker in her office with 12 years of experience makes $26,395, which is less than a worker in Trimble County with four years of service who makes $27,968, less than workers in Gallatin County with seven years on the job who earn $29,760 and less than a Henry County worker with 12 years at $29,082.
District 2 Magistrate Dean Miller objected, asking how fiscal court could approve 13 percent increases for the staff in one office and not provide it to the rest of county workers. “That’s what we are judging it on,” he said. Miller added that nobody who works for the county or the state makes enough money.
Marsh said the salary scale has not changed much in the more than two decades she has worked in the office.
When she was hired at the clerk’s office in 1986, the starting salary was $8 an hour. In the 26 years since that time, the starting wage has only risen to $8.66 an hour, she said.
Marsh said the 3 percent raises are not getting added to the starting salaries.
Fiscal court said it may be time to look at the salary scales for county workers.
“I think it’s definitely time to have that discussion,” District 3 Magistrate Mark Bates said.
Judge-Executive Harold “Shorty” Tomlinson agreed that it may be time to re-evaluate the salaries.
“After the first of the year, I think I will put together a group with the elected officials and we can certainly do some kind of comparison,” Tomlinson said. He noted that a few years back the area development district prepared a study on salaries and benefits. At that point, he said the benefits proved to be the big difference for Carroll County’s workers.
Tomlinson said he would consider having someone with no connections to the county work with the committee to provide some guidance.
Bates also said that the county contributes about $20,000 into the clerk’s office for retirement and insurance coverage. He said this is above and beyond the $37,000 that the office returned to the county in excess fees for the year.
“I don’t know that your office is fully funding everything it expends,” Bates said.
Sheriff Kinman was met with a similar reaction as he sought raises for deputies that ranged from 7 percent to 9 percent.
Kinman said he budgeted for a $1 per hour pay increase for his deputies, who currently range in pay from $11.33 per hour to $14.49 per hour.
“The money’s there to use for it, so that’s why I did it,” he said.
Kinman also had researched comparable starting salaries for sheriff’s offices in the area. It shows that Carroll County has the lowest starting salary at $10.50, despite having the second highest population at 11,013 of the five counties. Gallatin is closest at $10.58 and 8,612 population, with Owen at $11.50 and a population of 10,858, Henry County at $12.50 and a population of 15,433 and Trimble County at $15 and a population of 8,725.
Tomlinson said overtime for the sheriff’s office continues to grow. He expected it would decrease after deputies completed their training last year. Instead, overtime is at 1,300 hours for 2012, up from 1,143 in 2011 and 415 in 2010.
Kinman explained the overtime is tied to the number of cases they have to handle, which is increasing.
So far in 2012, he said the office has opened 322 cases, up from 293 in 2011 and 86 in 2010.
“That’s where the overtime comes from,” he said. Kinman said officers have to work all of these cases and prepare them for prosecution.
“I have no problem with overtime because you don’t get it unless you work,” Miller said. “If you work, you need to get paid.”
Tomlinson praised the work of the sheriff’s office. “I think you’ve done a really good job. I know you were honored and that was an honor for Carroll County.
“But at this time, I think we ought to stick with the 3 percent like we had to do with Alice (Marsh),” Tomlinson said.
He said the sheriff had indicated that Gallatin County has more officers and pays more. “But they are also being subsidized by the speedway,” he said. “It’s not all coming directly out of their budget.”
Kinman argued that his office generates the money he wants to pay his deputies and staff.
“These guys work for me, so I’m trying to help them,” the sheriff said. “If I can generate the money, then I feel let’s pay them.”
Kinman said he fears that without this $1 per hour increase he could lose Deputy J.T. Shaw. “That boy, you know what he does,” he said.
“I’m proud of my department and I’m proud of the work that they do. … I understand that if we give it to the sheriff that we have to give it to everybody. And I hate it that it’s got to be that way,” Kinman said. “If I can do it for my guys, then let’s do it. I know everybody works hard. ... I want what’s right for them because they bust their tails for me and I appreciate that. They do a damn good job for this community. I just want what’s right and what’s fair to them.”
Tomlinson asked the court what they wanted to do.
“You know where I’m at,” Miller said. “I think everybody should get the same raise. If you want to work and try to give some later that’s fine.”
Fiscal court voted to approve the sheriff’s budget with the reduction in salaries to provide a 3 percent raise.
“Jamie, be sure to let them know that we’re going to have that conversation in the first quarter about classifications of jobs,” Bates said after the vote.
The county clerk’s budget proposal totaled $398,900 for 2013, up from $313,290 for 2012. However, that number will be reduced with the reductions to the salary line that will include a 3 percent raise, instead of 13 percent.
Tomlinson also said $12,000 to replace flooring, ceiling tile and paint and to add some shelving should be paid for by the county, not by the clerk’s office. Other work that is planned in the front office, including replacing the front counter, should also be paid by the county, he said.
The sheriff’s office budget totals $552,500, the same as last year. This year’s budget will be reduced because of the reductions in the salary line to provide the 3 percent raises.