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Commission OKs cost-of-living raises

When the Pike County commissioners broke huddle shortly after 6:30 p.m. Tuesday night, they finally came out with a play that worked.

Until then, it had been a yard and a cloud of dust.

The commissioners were at odds as to whether to grant a 3 percent anniversary raise for all county employees. And, it was Commissioner Robin Sullivan who suggested a 1.5 percent cost of living raise that was readily accepted by Commission Chairman Jimmy Barron and Commissioners Homer Wright, Charlie Harris and Oren Fannin. Commissioner Ray Goodson did not attend the meeting.

“I has beat myself up over this thing all day Sunday,” Sullivan said. “Then, tonight, it just came to me that a 1.5 percent cost of living raise would be the way to go. It was a compromise. The others agreed.”

Barron said the cost of living raise will have an immediate impact on the county’s employees because it will go into effect on Oct. 1, rather than on employees’ anniversary dates.

“I think this is something that the employees will be OK with,” he said. “Under the circumstances, it’s a good thing.”

Sullivan, Barron and Fannin said they will not accept the cost of living raise. Wright and Harris were non-committal, saying only that they would “sleep on it.”

“We’ll leave it to the other elected officials as to whether they want to accept the raise or not,” Barron said.

The agreement the commissioners reached Tuesday night was a hard fought one and one that came after Harry Sanders, county administrator, asked several times for “direction.”

Law mandates that the commission present a balanced budget by Oct. 1, 2010.

“We’ve got little time left,” Sanders told the commissioners. “Give me direction. I need direction tonight.”

Following the decision to include a 1.5 percent cost of living raise in the budget, the commissioners reversed their decision to reduce their discretionary fund projects.

Earlier in the meeting in an attempt to trim their own budget expenses, the commissioners agreed to reduce their discretionary funds from $4,600 each to $2,000, reducing the total from $27,600 to $12,000.

But the dust has yet to settle on the budget that the commission will vote to balance at its regular meeting on Monday, Sept. 29.

The commissions had continued to hassle over a request by EMA Director Jeanna Barnes, for a part-time temporary employee to be elevated to fulltime status.

The annual salary for the fulltime position would be $23,000-plus and, with benefits, $33,178.54.

However, following the 1.5 percent cost of living agreement, the commissioners quickly decided to include the additional fulltime employee in the FY2011 budget.