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Sanitation, EMS raises approved
Steve Glenn color

A salary increase for Warren County Sanitation Department drivers also drove a bonus home for Warren County EMS employees.

The full Warren County Commission voted 16-8 to approve a $2 salary adjustment for Sanitation Department drivers and one-time bonuses for EMS employees: $750 for full-time employees, and $375 for part time employees.

On the docket for consideration was only the salary adjustment proposed by Sanitation Department director Josh Roberts, who requested in early February to transfer monies within his 2020-21 budget for an increase from $14.50 to $16.50 for sanitation drivers to curb a turnover rate.

“I’ve had drivers leave for more money, for better benefits,” said Roberts. “I have two drivers this year who can retire. I don’t know what we’ll do if that happens.”

Commissioner Cole Taylor said he called four Sanitation Departments – Rutherford, Bedford, Coffee and White – to inquire about their pay scale.

“I think Josh is doing a phenomenal job and I’m not going to say they don’t deserve a raise,” said Taylor. “I’d like to see them get one. The timing is the problem with me. Every director that I spoke with today said the same thing, ‘You never want to start giving raises in the middle of a calendar year.’ That’s the only problem I have. A raise should be at budget time and not during the year.”

The department had three drivers with one vacancy when Roberts requested the salary increase. Another driver resigned. Roberts has been driving a truck until drivers can be hired. 

“There is no reason why we shouldn’t pass this tonight,” said Commissioner Steve Glenn. “If we don’t, we’ve already lost two drivers. We could lose some more. Besides, this is not coming out of our budget. It’s coming out of his budget. It’s not costing the county a penny.”

A potential loss of services isn’t worth $20,170, the transfer amount requested by Roberts, says Commissioner Christy Ross.

“I don’t think anybody wants to see us be in a place where we have to shut down a convenience center,” said Ross. “For that, I’m in favor of supporting Mr. Roberts in moving funds around within his budget to keep us in service.”

Commissioner Scott Rubley agreed a salary adjustment is needed, but expressed a desire to wait until the 2021-22 fiscal year, which begins July 1. 

“I do agree there is a deficiently there,” said Rubley. “The pay is not where it needs to be with the drivers. As I expressed to director Roberts, we are basically two months from submitting budgets. We just addressed the ambulance service with a bonus. It would be pretty hypocritical of me tonight to vote in favor of a raise.”

EMS director Preston Denney requested the county allow him to provide a bonus to his employees that mirrored bonuses given to Warren County School System employees. Funds for the bonus would also be a transfer within his existing budget totaling $37,400. That request was tabled in committee for later consideration during the budget-setting process. 

Commissioner Carl D. Bouldin made a motion to amend the Sanitation Department measure and include the bonuses requested by Denney. 

“I can’t support one and never have gotten to vote on the other,” said Bouldin. “I hope this is appropriate, but I want to amend the motion and also include the bonuses for EMS employees.”

Commissioners voted 18-6 in favor of amending the motion. Shortly thereafter, the vote remained unchanged for approval of the salary adjustment and bonuses.

In favor of both were Commissioners Steve Glenn, Christy Ross, Carl D. Bouldin, Michael Bell, Carl E. Bouldin, Carlene Brown, David Dunlap, Randy England, Deborah Evans, Steven Helton, Robert Hennessee, Brad Hillis, Ron Lee, Gary Martin, Kasey Owens, Daniel Owens, Gary Prater and Phillip Stout. Voting against both were Commissioners Scott Rubley, Cole Taylor, Tommy Savage, Tyrone Sparkman, Joseph Stotts and Blaine Wilcher. 

Deliberation exceeded 30 minutes.