Greene County employees to receive raises

County commissioners unanimously approved a 2 percent pay increase for employees this week during the board of commissioners meeting. The increase is expected to cost taxpayers a little under $200,000, according to Howard Poston, the county administrator.

The increase will effect full-time non-union employees who work for departments or agencies under the board of commissioners.

The salary increase went into effect Aug. 11. Employees should the see the increase in their Sept. 7 paychecks, according to Poston.

The last time employees under the board of commissioners received an increase was December 2011, according to the county personnel department.

The pay increase was not initially included in the annual budget because of uncertainty about revenues and expenses, Poston told county commissioners during a meeting earlier this week. He recommended the pay raise for county workers after a mid-year review of the budget.

“Revenue is a little bit higher than what the projections were estimated to be and that’s primarily in the sales tax area although there are some others that are up and others that are down,” Poston said. “But on the whole it was better than we anticipated it would be.”

The biggest change in the budget has been a reduction in expenses, according to the county administrator. In 2008, county expenses were $28 million compared to the current expenses which add up to $24 million.

Poston attributed some of the savings to staff reductions. In 2008, about 475 county employees worked under the county commissioners. Today that number is down to 398.

He explained the staff reductions were the result of vacant positions that were not filled.

Employees under the commissioners account for about 31 percent of all county employees.

“I think the employee morale is so high and I think the employees have done so well by us,” said Marilyn Reid, a commissioner, said shortly before she voted for the measure.

Reid recalled how some employees participated in the county voluntary furlough program.

“That was hard on them and they did so many things to help us through those economic struggles and they went without pay raises…,” she said.

The voluntary furlough program was in effect July 30 – June 2010, according to the county personnel office. Non-union employees were asked to take two weeks off without pay during the year.

“They could do it in as little as four hours (increments),” said Kenneth “Ken” Johnson, the Greene County human resources director. “We wanted to make it as painless as possible.”

Johnson estimates 114, or 22 percent, of county employees participated in the program in 2009. That year, employees in the program took leave without pay for 3,570 hours.

The county did not track furlough data for 2010.

County elected officials will also get a budget adjustment equivalent to a 2 percent employee salary increase for the remainder of the year. They can use the money for employee salary increases or other things, such as projects, according to the county administrator.

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