Commission denies raise to Probate employees

Published 11:00 pm Friday, January 31, 2014

At the Monday meeting of the Pike County Commission, the commission denied a request by Probate Judge Wes Allen that would have restructured the personnel and salaries within his department.

Allen proposed taking the funds made available from the retirement of a recent senior office employee and using it to increase the pay of all current probate office employees. The end result would have increased pay and still kept the probate personnel costs under budget for this year.

“Treating our employees fairly and saving taxpayer money are high priorities for me,” Allen said. “This plan accomplishes both.”

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The difference in salary between the recently retired employee and her new replacement would have covered the raises for each employee in the office. This money had already been budgeted and approved by the commission.

Allen said he could not imagine why the commission would not approve his request. “I have presented a reasonable, conservative plan to restructure the personnel and salaries within the probate office,” Allen said. “My plan fairly compensates all nine ladies that work hard every day in the probate office.”

In addition to raising the salary of every employee in the office, Allen’s plan would have also saved money for the county. “My plan even saves the county taxpayer money from the approved fiscal year 2013-14 budget,” Allen said. “I don’t understand how the commission could turn down this conservative plan. I guess saving taxpayer money is not a priority for the commission.”

Allen’s proposal would have saved the county just over $2,000 for fiscal year 2013-14. In addition, each employee in the office would have received a single-step raise.

Commissioner Jimmy Barron, who voted to support Allen’s proposal, was unhappy with the result of the vote. “We have honored other elected officials’ requests in the past,” Barron said. “I know that we’ve done this in two other departments—the Sheriff’s Department and the Revenue Commissioner’s Department.”

Barron said the raises would have helped each employee of the probate office. “I personally don’t think it’s right,” Barron said. “In the past, Judge Allen has given us funds from his department to help the county. He was doing this the right way too. Everyone who worked for him was going to get a raise, and it was going to save the county money in the long run. I don’t know why this wasn’t approved.”

Commission Chairman Homer Wright said he voted against the proposal because it would not be fair to employees in other departments throughout the county. “We had a vote earlier in the year and decided not to give any employees in the county a raise,” Wright said. “We didn’t give them a raise. We want to treat everyone the same. Since employees in the other department did not get a raise, it wouldn’t be fair for the probate employees to receive a raise.”

The proposal was defeated by a margin of 3-2. Commissioners Barron and Joey Jackson voted in support of the proposal. Commissioners Wright, Ray Goodson and Charlie Harris voted against the proposal. Commissioner Robin Sullivan was absent from the vote due to illness.