2018-08-29 / Front Page

County proposes $98 million budget

DIANA ROYAL

Salary increases across the board account for more than $1 million in the county’s $98 million budget for fiscal year 2019.

Of the $1 million proposed salary increase, $384,573 comes from the county’s step plan and another $618,582 from a 2.4 percent Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) for all county employees. Additionally, considerable pay increases and new positions tack on another several thousand dollars.

The most significant increases were given to the heads of the sheriff’s office and the facility maintenance department. During a number of budget work sessions over the last several weeks, the board of commissioners and other county employees have commended both departments for their work within the community. The commission agreed to increase Sheriff Alfonzo Williams’ supplement by $15,000, bringing his yearly salary to $101,407.73. They also added two corrections officers and a detail officer to his department’s payroll, with salaries totaling nearly $200,000.

Barnhart, who serves as the facility maintenance director, earned a hefty increase in yearly pay from $65,208 to $88,000, and commissioners granted him six new employees (after a request that came in post-deadline): a custodian foreman, $35,000; two custodians, $25,375 each; maintenance mechanic II, $31,743; maintenance mechanic I, $28,519; and an audio-visual specialist, $35,682. He broke down the figures to commissioners, showing that the county would save money if it were to hire additional employees rather than contract services out, especially considering that thousands of square feet in areas that need to be maintained are being added over the next few years. “There’s no doubt in my mind that we are going backwards,” he said. “We are going to crash and burn. There are significant savings if we do it ourselves as compared to contracting it out. There’s too much work even if we do hire new positions. It’s worth the money if you hire good employees.”

Barnhart also expressed concern over managing the facilities department as well as IT operations. Rather than hire a director over IT as suggested, the board ultimately decided to increase Barnhart’s salary.

He and Williams join County Administrator Merv Waldrop, EMA Director Rusty Sanders and Development Authority Executive Director Jessica Hood in the top five of the county’s top-paid employees, with annual salaries of $106,815.49, $93,205.30 and $90,563.19, respectively, for the next fiscal year.

In total, the county added 10 new positions, which included a deputy clerk at $25,000, bringing the total amount of county employees to 473 for FY 2019. The commissioners also cut a code enforcement officer position ($32,000) for the planning commission that had initially been funded for the upcoming year in order to make room for the last minute requests.

Taxpayers will also contribute $47,772.79 to cover the salaries of the five-member board of commissioners.

A hearing on the proposed budget will be held today (Wednesday, Aug. 29) in the commission meeting room at 6 p.m.

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