County approves pay grades

Following another lengthy discussion, the Clark County Fiscal Court approved a pay grade and job classification plan Wednesday.

A subcommittee has been working for nearly two years to come up with a plan to set salary ranges and standardize raises among county employees. The court had already approved a step increase plan for annual and seniority raises for county employees.

Two weeks ago, the court approved the first reading 5-2 after it reduced starting salaries for three positions in the county road department. For the second reading Wednesday, two of those were increased: road maintenance workers will now start at $20,467 annually and equipment operators will now start at $23,693. Heavy equipment operators will start at $27,427 (up from $22,565), according to the pay grade schedule.

Only Magistrate Sheila McCord, who chaired the pay grade committee, voted against the second reading. The original ordinance called for all three positions to start at higher salaries.

“(County Road Supervisor Kevin Wilson) has the money…,” McCord said. “I don’t see why you can’t do it. That’s what he asked for twice from the committee.”

Clark County Judge-Executive Henry Branham voted for the second reading, after grades were increased for the two positions. Following the meeting, Branham said that change should avoid current employees facing pay cuts.

Much of the discussion centered around salaries for existing employees. Some of the magistrates wanted to assign current employees within the steps based on their current salaries, so they wouldn’t lose money. Branham said employees should be assigned to their grade and have their step calculated, according to the plan, based on their years of service and seniority.

“So are we arbitrarily choosing steps?” Branham said during the meeting and prior to the vote.

“Logic is setting them in a step close to their current salary,” Konstantopoulos said.

“You’re taking the foundation, basically, out of whatever we put in place,” Branham said. “It’s just whimsical.”

Branham also blasted the court for not looking at the situation objectively.

“I think there’s too much personal involvement, he said. “There’s a large segment of the population that will want their roads plowed. I think we as a fiscal court are missing why they elected us: to provide services, not to save them money.”

Recruiting and retaining county employees has been a long-standing issue for Clark County. The grades, Branham said, would be a way to raise starting salaries and attract qualified employees. The steps would help current employees.

Earlier in Wednesday’s meeting, the court approved a status change for a full-time county firefighter who wanted to go back to volunteer status. Clark County Fire Chief Billy Jones said the firefighter was concerned about the proposed pay grade plan and decided to pursue full-time employment elsewhere.

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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