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County pay policy amended in meeting

The Pike County Commission took a step Monday that could mean the elimination of anniversary pay raises for county employees in the next budget year.

“The commission did a resolution in 2005 that did away with merit pay and gave a 3 percent raise every year regardless,” said District 6 Commissioner Oren Fannin, who proposed the policy amendment.

The reason Fannin said he make this proposal now was to give the commission the authority to choose whether it grants raises to the county employees in the next budget year, which begins Oct. 1.

As it has stood since 2005, employees and elected officials paid by the county have received a 3 percent raise on their date of hire each year.

“All we’ve done is say we’ll put it at the discretion of the commission,” Fannin said. “Come budget time, we will discuss it.”

While the majority of the commission gave the proposal an OK, commissioners Robin Sullivan and Ray Goodson stood in opposition.

“I gave my word I would not do that,” Sullivan said. “It goes all the way back to 25 percent of the tax we got in 2005. I gave my word then, and I’m not going to break it.”

“I feel like the employees deserve that. They work hard for that,” Goodson echoed.

District 1 Commissioner Homer Wright said he supported the proposal because he believes the commission should have the authority to choose.

“I think if you don’t have the funds, you can’t just give the raise,” Wright said. “You have to look at revenue. I’d rather not give a raise than have to let people get laid off if we don’t have money six months down the road.”

Also voting for the proposal were Commissioners Charlie Harris and Jimmy Barron, chairman.

The commission will discuss the fate of employee raises as it begins the budget hearing process. The first hearing is set for 2 to 5 p.m. Monday, Aug. 30 at the Pike County Health Department, and County Administrator Harry Sanders said raises will be included in the first proposed budget.

“The first working budget will include it because we have to have a starting point,” Sanders said. “If the commission doesn’t want it in there, we will take it out.”

Also in the meeting, the commission voted to hire a temporary part-time employee in the Pike County Emergency Management Agency Office. The bulk of the position will be funded by grant money the office has and will lose if it doesn’t use by September, said EMA Director Jeanna Barnes.

The purpose of the request was because the EMA office has been mandated to keep track of emergency training for school employees, adding about 590 people to its list.

Barnes said the updates will have to be made by the local office by Sept 9, and she would be unable to do so without help.

The commission also approved a grant application for the road department, which would enable the county to improve guard rail at bridge structures and replace stop signs and warning signs.