A recommendation by Warren County Commissioner Kenneth Rogers to change the committee pay of county commissioners and set next year’s salary increase for county employees was met with resistance Tuesday night.
“I have something I would like everyone to consider,” said Rogers in presenting his suggestion to the Policy and Personnel Committee.
In attendance were Commissioners Ken Martin, chairman, and Charles Morgan. Absent from the meeting were Commissioners Wayne Copeland and George Smartt.
Rogers suggested the county set the committee salary of county commissioners at $600 a year and give county employees the same salary increase in 2014 that elected officials received from the governor. Commissioners would start receiving that increase in 2015.
Commissioners currently receive $25 per committee meeting they attend. The amount does not include a $260 monthly fixed salary, which would not be changed by Roger’s proposal.
Rogers says the change to a set committee salary of $600 a year would not affect the county budget as the county is already spending over $14,000 on committee meetings, but the change would promote pay equalization among commissioners.
“This would promote an equalization in pay for all county commissioners and make it easier in preparing a budget for their pay,” he said. “Beginning in 2015, county commissioners would receive the same percentage raise as the elected officials receive from the governor.”
Morgan was not in favor of a set salary for committee attendance.
“Since you called me to tell me about this, I’ve had a chance to think about it,” Morgan said. “We have some commissioners serving on two, three and four committees. I would hate to be on four committees and know someone serving on one committee receives the same salary as I do.”
Rogers questioned, “Would you meet more than 24 times a year?”
On average, commissioners who attend no more than 24 committee meetings a year would still receive the same amount under a set salary of $600.
“It’s not just the meetings,” said Morgan. “It’s time and gas to attend the meetings. I just don’t know if I could support this.”
Martin added, “I agree with Charles.”
Rogers suggested removing the provision regarding committee attendance, while leaving in the salary increase suggestion for county employees — giving county employees in 2014 what was mandated by the state for elected officials this year.
For fiscal year 2013-14, the state mandated a 4.61 percent salary increase for elected officials. Receiving the increase were County Executive John Pelham, General Session Judge Bill Locke, Road Superintendent Levie Glenn, Sheriff Jackie Matheny, Trustee Darlene Bryant, Circuit Court Clerk Bernie Morris, County Clerk Lesa Scott, Register of Deeds Terry Smith, Assessor of Property Beth Martin, and Administrator of Elections Donna Smith, who is appointed.
Pelham received an increase of $3,460, while commissioners gave all full-time county employees an increase of $1,000, and all part-time employees an increase of $500.
Morgan says he can’t support the unknown.
“I don’t think I can support that either,” said Morgan. “How can we set something for the future when we don’t know what we will have in revenue?”
Rogers added, “I just think we should put employees first. We always give money away and if we have anything left, give it to employees. I think we should put our employees first.”
For fiscal year 2013-14, commissioners donated $212,410 to nonprofit organizations and gave $250,000 to the Industrial Development Board.
“I’m assuming you are referring to nonprofits,” said Morgan. “Nonprofits help our seniors and the community. I think we would be letting our community down if we don’t give to those.”
It’s not about not wanting to give to employees, says Martin.
“I would, personally, like to give employees a raise every year,” Martin said. “I think we did fairly well this year with salaries. We can’t do it every year. It would require a tax increase. I don’t think the community would support it.”
After no second came to his original motion on salaries, Rogers made a second motion to end the meeting. It was unanimously accepted.