County sees more payroll overages

Published 8:31 pm Monday, February 9, 2009

After two employees were hired in the Pike County Sheriff’s Department, the county will be dishing out even more in overages in its payroll budget — at least this year they will.

With an early retirement incentive costing the county some $300,000, the total of each of the eight employee’s salaries who accepted the package, the county exasperated its total budgeted amount by paying those employees for a years worth of work.

But, at the request of the revenue commissioner and the sheriff, raises were approved for employees who would be taking on extra work loads without those retired workers, creating an additional $16,600 expense for Pike County.

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Now, Pike County Sheriff Russell Thomas said he could no longer go without replacing at least two of his vacant positions, adding an extra $45,800 to the payroll budget.

“I have one new deputy that we’ve replaced to fill a retiring slot and a new corrections officer in jail to fill a spot,” Thomas said. “I’ve saved roughly five weeks of salaries by not replacing anyone immediately. (But) we absolutely can not operate without them.”

And even still, Thomas said there is an extra clerical position he will continue to keep open in the meantime.

Though Pike County will be paying more for salaries this year, County Administrator Harry Sanders said the savings will be felt as early as next year.

“The numbers are an additional cost in replacing those folks but next year will be a savings,” Sanders said.

Sanders said the county will save some $91,000 in the next year by having these positions open, or in some cases, filled with an employee at a starting salary.

“In the long run we’ll continue to reap the benefits of that savings, and overtime, we’ll have actually saved money,” Sanders said.

But, that doesn’t discredit the fact that this year, in a time of economic recession, costs will be much higher.

Commission Chairman Robin Sullivan said commissioners anticipated some of the departments would have to replace some of the employees, particularly in the sheriff’s office.

“There is just some folks he can not do without,” Sullivan said. “We’re still not going to do a bunch of hiring and fill all these positions.”

None of the other departments who have retired employees have had to replace any as of now. But, Sanders said the road department might announce a need for more workers in tonight’s commission meeting, after losing three employees to early retirement.

Sullivan said even though times are economically challenging, he does not anticipate this being a decision the county can’t afford this year.

“As of right now, we should be OK,” Sullivan said. But, he said he isn’t sure if all the salary decisions the county made as a result of the incentive are ones he would make again.

“We did grant some moving around of some salary to help employees out, and looking back on that, it might not have been the best decision,” Sullivan said.