County considering freeze on raises

Published 8:18 pm Monday, March 9, 2009

Though nothing’s been decided yet, one Pike County Commissioner has proposed putting a halt on employee raises for the next year.

In efforts to save money in a time the commission is facing a possible $72,000 shortfall this year alone, Commissioner Charlie Harris proposed freezing county employee raises in the next year.

No vote was taken in Monday’s meeting, but Harris said it could come before the commission at any time.

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“I just wanted to give commissioners time to think about this,” Harris said.

If the proposal meets approval, it would not take away any of the 3-percent raises county employees have already been given this year. It would instead just prevent commissioners from giving the raises in the next year, something that hasn’t been done at least since 1999. Right now, it is part of the current pay structure that county employees receive at least a 3-percent annual raise, and at times, commissioners have also granted an additional 3-percent cost of living raise.

“Right now if we look at the budget for the next fiscal year, raises probably cost close to $1 million,” Harris said.

“If we don’t do this, we’ll probably have to lay off at least two people in each department.”

But, Harris’s proposal is not met without some opposition.

“Not all commissioners agree with that,” said Commissioner Ray Goodson. “We have some employees who make lower than our top employees, and we need to consider them.”

Also in their meeting, commissioners approved to form an agreement between the county and the city of Brundidge for housing inmates. “The county has been housing inmates for Brundidge for years,” said County Administrator Harry Sanders. “This will just create an actual contract.”

At the request of Pike County Sheriff Russell Thomas, the agreement will come at the cost of around $25 a day for each inmate to be held in the Pike County Jail.

The commission also approved at Thomas’s request to declare several items in the department surplus, including old cars and other equipment, and those items will now be sold.