The financial plan for Warren County Animal Control and Adoption Center created tension Tuesday because it included an option to provide two part-time employees raises of $1,650 each.
Members of the county Health and Welfare Committee met to review a monthly report for the center, as well as its proposed budget for fiscal year 2017-18.
“This is my proposed budget for the coming year,” said Animal Control director Kim Pettrey.
The budget was a combined $113,891, up by $10,151 from this year’s budget of $103,740.
Currently, the department has a full-time director and two part-time employees. Pettrey says she needs one of those to be increased to full time.
“The main increase is asking for Brandi to be made full time instead of part time,” said Pettrey. “We need someone to be at the building when I’m on calls. It’s a busy place. I need a full-time person. Brandi wants to go full time.”
What appeared to be cut and dry hit a snag when Commissioner Blaine Wilcher presented his proposed budget for the department which left the overall amount the same at $103,740. However, he moved money from different line items and gave the two part-time employees raises of $1,650 each.
“Basically, if you look at the bottom, the budget stays exactly the same as it was last year. We take $3,300 out of the existing budget – money that she has spent as of today. That $3,300 would go into their salaries, but we are asking for the same amount this year as we did last year.”
The amount breaks down to an additional 83 cents an hour per employee. No raise was given to the director.
“I’m fine with this except it’s going to make my food budget very tight,” said Pettrey. “Usually, if we are running low, I can put the word out that we need food and it pours in.”
Wilcher added, “I won’t let any animal go without food. I’ll donate food if I have to. I think it makes sense to go this way in order to give the girls a pretty good raise to keep them from going anywhere, if they remain part time. At the same time, we aren’t asking the county for any money.”
Not everyone was fine with it.
Commissioner Michael Martin asked, “Are you going to give everyone else a $1,650 raise?”
“No,” said Wilcher. “We didn’t have to last year. We proved we can do this.”
Pettrey added, “This shouldn’t be an issue since we aren’t asking for more money.”
“If those departments can go into their budgets and give their employees raises, I don’t think anyone would argue with that,” said Wilcher.
In attendance at the meeting was Sanitation Department director Steve Hillis, who says Animal Control is opening up a can of worms with raises.
“The problem is not every department can do that,” he said. “If you give one a raise, you have to give everybody a raise. If my department hears that, there will be one or two say ‘Well, they gave them a raise, so why can’t I have one?’ I can’t do it because then I’ll have to give everybody one. It opens up a can of worms. Not because they don’t deserve it. They do deserve it. My employees deserve it, too.”
Pettrey reminded the committee her budget request was not for raises, but for one part-time person to be increased to full time.
“My request was for Brandi to be full time,” she said. “It’s needed. We’re busy. We’re busier than we’ve ever been. We have between five and eight people in there all the time. We need a full-time person. The raises weren’t my option. They were Blaine’s option.”
Wilcher, who said he presented a budget because he did not believe Pettrey’s proposed budget would be accepted by the county Budget and Finance Committee, made a motion to approve his budget and send it for consideration with a stipulation that it be withdrawn if not acceptable by Budget and Finance.
The measure was unanimously approved.