Raises OK’d for county employees

The committee charged with creating a pay grade and classification plan for Clark County employees could not agree on a plan and its members said they have done all they can.

Three magistrates have been working for about two years to create a system of pay grades, classifications and step increases similar to the City of Winchester’s, to eliminate arbitrary raises. 

After a lengthy discussion Wednesday morning during the Clark County Fiscal Court meeting, the three magistrates said they don’t want to meet any more. They did not, though, vote on a proposal to present to the Fiscal Court. The court had previously approved the step plan for annual and longevity raises, but has not classified the county’s jobs nor set starting salaries for those positions.

“We need to do it right,” Magistrate Pam Blackburn said. “We’ve already done it backwards.”

Magistrate Sheila McCord, who chaired the committee with magistrates Daniel Konstantopoulos and Joe Graham, said they could not agree on a plan to present to the Fiscal Court.

“I don’t agree with it because some employees are on food stamps,” McCord said during the meeting. “I think we have a good starting point but I didn’t agree.”

“We had an impasse there,” Graham said. “Whether it’s a formal vote or not, we had an agreement.”

Items generated by a committee can not be presented to the full court without a vote by the members. The situation, though, was discussed publicly following a closed session during Wednesday’s meeting.

Konstantopoulos generated a document to show the financial impact, which was given to the magistrates, but he said it was not a proposal.

During the May 24 meeting, the committee recommended suspending the annual 1 percent raise until the pay grades, or salary schedules, and classifications could be established. No action was taken on that Wednesday, so the increase will likely take effect as scheduled.

Clark County Judge-Executive Henry Branham said the grades and classifications would establish starting salaries for jobs within county government. Once those are set, the steps could be calculated easily, he said.

There were also questions during the meeting about some employees projected to receive a $4,000 raise while others got less than 1 percent.

“We’ve been in limbo on this for a year,” Blackburn said. “I’m to the point of not even doing it. You all have worn me out on this.”

Branham said he’d like to see the grades determined by the job, rather than the person presently in that position. The grades would be an opportunity to bring salaries in line to be more competitive with other entities, as recruiting and retaining employees has been a struggle for the county, he said.

“I think the grade should be our starting salary,” McCord said.

“It’s like what the city went through with paramedics…,” Branham said. “We got left behind on compensation of the position. I think we’re compensating people but we need to look at compensating positions.”

Clark County Animal Shelter Director Adreanna Wills said the county department heads have already budgeted and planned for the pay plan to be implemented.

“We just need you to approve the classification into the appropriate grade,” Wills said. “We have gone the next step.”

Branham said a first reading of an ordinance creating the pay grades and classifications could be presented at the June 28 meeting, with a second reading after the new fiscal year begins July 1, though he suggested the court take its time to avoid more mistakes.

About Fred Petke

Fred Petke is a reporter for The Winchester Sun. His beats include cops, courts, fire, public records, city and county government and other news. To contact Fred, email fred.petke@winchestersun.com or call 859-759-0051.

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