Board cuts salary increase

Published 10:40 am Thursday, October 13, 2016

Prince Edward County supervisors have eliminated a budgeted 2 percent salary increase for county employees for fiscal year 2017. The decision comes as a result of the commonwealth’s revenue shortfall, which led to a statewide decision not to implement a proposed Dec. 1 salary increase for state employees.

With a previously budgeted $37,513 not coming into the county from the State Compensation Board, supervisors had to make a decision to balance the budget without going into debt. The board made its decision in a series of three motions, the final of which attempted to resolve employee concerns by implementing a one-year bonus for the employees in place of the  anticipated raise.

Megan Clark

Megan Clark

The board’s finance committee, which met Oct. 6, recommended the board take the three votes. The funding cut will lead to a yearly loss of $64,308 beginning in fiscal year 2018. The board focused on solutions only for fiscal year 2017 during Tuesday’s meeting.

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During the meeting’s public participation section, and prior to the votes, several community members spoke in favor of leaving the pay raise in the budget.

Commonwealth’s Attorney Megan Clark said the pay raise would help improve employee retention and morale.

“An increase is necessary. They are dedicated employees,” Clark said.

Prince Edward County Sheriff Wesley Reed also commented after giving a report on the sheriff’s office’s success during the Vice Presidential Debate.

“If you can see fit to help the employees of Prince Edward County, we would be truly grateful,” Reed said.

Roma Morris, director of social services in the county, followed Clark and Reed, saying social service jobs are much harder now than they were 30 years ago and Prince Edward County is one of the poorest counties in the commonwealth.

“These people need to live, too,” she said of her 30 employees. “I don’t think it’s asking for a lot to get a 2 percent raise.”

During the Oct. 6 finance committee meeting, members voted 2-1 for the pay raise to be removed.

Prospect District Representative Calvin Gray“Have you considered other steps?” Prospect District Representative Calvin Gray asked, and suggested a 1 percent raise.

501 Buffalo District Supervisor C.R. “Bob” Timmons Jr. said the board needs to balance the budget to match the revenue coming in from the state and made a motion to do so.

The board agreed unanimously.

Locket District Supervisor and Vice Chair Robert Jones then asked if the board could give a bonus so they wouldn’t have to fund the raise again the following year.

Leigh District Representative Jerry Townsend said employees deserve the raise.

“They have worked hard,” he said.

Last year, County Administrator Wade Bartlett said, the county funded a 3 percent raise even though the state only funded 2 percent.

“Could the bonus be given on December 15 so the employees have some Christmas money?” Chairman Howard Simpson, who represents the Farmville District, asked.

Bartlett said something along those lines could be arranged.

“We’re watching the county’s money real close to prevent future debt,” Timmons said.

The board then unanimously agreed to not provide the pay raise for fiscal year 2017.

The third motion involved providing the bonus for employees. After discussing several options for how much the bonuses would be, the board came up with providing part-time employees with $100, employees making more than $70,000 annually a $200 bonus, and the remaining full-time employees who make less than $70,000 with about $350. Employees hired after July 1 are not eligible for a bonus. The total money spent for all bonuses is not to exceed $34,487, so as to keep the budget balanced, despite the loss of state funding, according to the motion.