Tedious budget discussions for Warren County government continued Wednesday when some salary increases went back into the upcoming fiscal year’s financial plan.
“I guess this was my fault,” said Commissioner Terry Bell, Budget and Finance Committee chair. “We were addressing two salaries but I said ‘all’ and I think y’all took that as everyone’s salary increase. I was just talking about two. It wasn’t my intent to remove them all.”
Bell said his intention was to remove only the $2,000 annual salary increases given to Finance Department director Linda Hillis and County Executive administrative assistant Carol Cantrell.
His statement to “make them all the same” was made during a Budget and Finance Committee meeting held last week with members Carl E. Bouldin, Ken Martin and Michael Martin attending. Commissioner Diane Starkey was absent.
Michael Martin turned the statement into a motion and stated his belief all county employees should receive the same salary increase of 50 cents an hour. The motion passed unanimously.
Ken made a motion to “clarify” the previous statement made by Bell and remove only the raises for Hillis and Cantrell. The motion passed 4-1. Michael Martin voted against it, again stating his belief all employees should be given the same increase.
The following singular raises were put back in the proposed budget for the upcoming fiscal year: $2 an hour each for Warren County Animal Control and Adoption Center director Kim Pettrey, Veterans Service officer Ernest Brewington, and Judicial Commissioner supervisor Jim Hartmann, as well as a $7,000 annual raise for EMS interim director Preston Denney to bring his salary up to what he was making before he was named director.
All employees not considered for a singular raise will be given 50 cents more an hour.
Bell clarified one other item.
“I want everyone to know these two employees (Hillis and Cantrell) didn’t ask for additional money,” said Bell. “I hate we have to remove them.”
Hillis requested her higher salary increase be removed.
“I did request that mine be taken out, but I wasn’t speaking for Carol,” said Hillis. “I feel really bad about hers being changed as well.”
Committee members also approved a “continuing budget resolution” that would allow the county to continue financial operations if the proposed budget makes it to the full Warren County Commission on Aug. 15 and is rejected.