Published 2:38 pm Tuesday, October 15, 2013
PRINCE EDWARD — County officials inked a cooperative agreement between the board and the new treasurer at their September meeting.
The County has similar agreements with other County constitutional officers which, specifically, “seeks to establish a uniform personnel system so that the Treasurer’s employees will have the same rights and benefits and will be subject to the same policies, procedures and regulations as other County employees…” with a few exceptions.
“Ya’ll will recall when we went under our personnel policy back in 2006 that we, the board, executed an agreement with each one of the constitutional offices concerning the applicability of the personnel policy to their offices. And we’ve got a new treasurer and we have not executed a document with her yet,” detailed Board of Supervisors Chairman William “Buckie” Fore.
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Following some discussion, the board authorized the chairman to execute such an agreement with the new treasurer, elected in a special election last December. The agreement does not change the status of the workers in the office as appointees of the constitutional officer who serve at their will and pleasure. It does outline as a basis for salary supplements. Workers are subject to the County’s personnel policy and procedures except the grievance procedures. Workers, the agreement further details, either funded by the State’s Compensation Board or the county, are on the County’s pay plan and are eligible for the same benefits and salary adjustments as those of other county workers.
The discussion of the agreement, however, opened up another issue.
“As I read through this agreement, they’re agreeing to our personnel policies and what I have seen in the last four years since I’ve been here is they follow it as long as they agree with it, but if they need a day off, they take it. And I have seen this time after time after time. There’s no teeth in this one way or the other,” Leigh District Supervisor Don Gantt cited.
Most constitutional officers (as well as most workers in those offices) are paid above what levels are approved by the State’s Compensation Board. It is typically worked out with the Board of Supervisors’ Personnel Committee and approved by the board as a whole.
Constitutional officers also receive the same raises when all County workers are granted an increase—even in years the state does not give a raise.
“They’re not—some are, I’m not (going to) say all—but there are constitutional officers that I don’t even know if they know exactly what they agreed to when they signed it,” Gantt would continue. “I’m guessing they do, but there need(s) to be some teeth in this. If you don’t want to follow the policy, don’t take the money. And what I mean by that is, take what the state pays you as we’re all elected. We don’t vote ourselves raises, but we do. When the constitutional officers—when we give raises to employees, they get it.”
The agreements with each constitutional officer spans to the end of their term. Gantt suggested revisiting the matter, seeking to execute a new agreement with each and building in consequences if they do not follow the policy—that they would not receive the County supplement over and above the Compensation Board’s fixed salary.
County Administrator Wade Bartlett affirmed that there is no formula for setting constitutional officers salaries.
“Since I’ve been here, when the constitutional officer is elected…now there’s been three…and in each case they’ve come and…made their case of what their salary should be and the board has either agreed or disagreed,” he stated.
Some of it is based on years of service in similar positions and their knowledge, he stated.
The board could have the option of changing the salary “almost at any time…and definitely during the budget process for the next coming fiscal year,” Bartlett assessed. “You could change anybody’s salary.”
There’s one constitutional office employee, Bartlett explained to The Herald, where the budgeted salary at the Comp board level for the year is $1,812. The state reimburses half that amount. That figures out to less than $1 an hour. The individual, a long-time worker, actually has a salary of $34,964.
“…It’s just bizarre. They just did that when all these budget cuts happened,” he explained. “They just said, OK, we’re gonna cut it and it doesn’t make any sense at all, but, you know, that’s what it is.”
Another worker in another office is set at $10,044, or $5 an hour.
“The state salary is just not very high for people,” noted Bartlett. “I mean, it’s just not.”
While the rest of the constitutional officers receive more than that approved by the State’s Compensation Board, the treasurer does not. Bartlett offered at the meeting that she has “no supplement whatsoever.”
He explained, “I discussed it with her, she was new and she felt that the salary that she would receive from the State Compensation Board was adequate…”
At the constitutional office level, the difference between the state-approved salary and what the County pays toward constitutional officer salaries is figured at just over $60,000 for the five.
The board would agree to sign the agreement with the treasurer, and that it would run concurrent with the other constitutional officers. (Though the Compensation Board sets salaries for all constitutional officers, it does not provide the full amount for the treasurer and commissioner of revenue.)