Fiscal Court votes down pay increase requests

Published 9:00 am Thursday, September 14, 2017

The Clark County Fiscal Court voted down a number of requested increases for county employees, saying they were not in line with the county’s pay plan.

There were requests for step increases for nine employees at the county road department along with two grade and step increases for county firefighters on the agenda for Wednesday’s meeting. Under the county’s pay plan implemented earlier this year, each job is assigned to a grade, and the steps within each grade amount to longevity increases.

Of the nine requests from the road department, only two were approved. The other seven were all voted down 4-3 after Magistrate Greg Elkins questioned the reasoning for the requests. The documentation mentioned a 1 percent raise for employees based on a comment made during a previous fiscal court meeting.

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Elkins said there was no documentation of the comment and the meeting occurred before all county employees got their annual 1 percent raise on July 1 when the new fiscal year began, which made the request moot.

“The pay plan was designed to establish a system for employee pay based on rank and years of service,” Elkins said.

The door was left open for supervisors to request additional increases to create separation within the plan, so newer hires aren’t making more than current employees, he said. Two of the requests from the road department were approved to create separation, he said.

Magistrates Joe Graham, Sheila McCord and Judge-Executive Henry Branham all voted for the increases, but were outvoted.

“We’ve got to pay these guys what they’re worth or we’ll lose them,” McCord said.

The court also voted to alter a recommended pay increase for a newly-promoted captain within the Clark County Fire Department. Fire Chief Billy Jones requested the firefighter receive both a grade and a step increase with the promotion, to bring the person in line with the other captains. The court, though, voted 5-2  to approve only the grade change, leaving him at the same step.

Jones said the lower step would mean the new captain would make about 68 cents less per hour than the other captains. The captains all have similar years of experience, he said.

Another firefighter who was promoted to lieutenant was also dropped one step in pay, but received the grade change with the promotion. The court voted 5-2 in favor of the change, with Branham and McCord again voting no.

Elkins said the pay plan was intended to only offer a grade change with a job change or promotion, rather than a grade and a step change.

In other action, the court approved the only bid for self-contained breathing apparatus for the Clark County Fire Department, though it was over budget. The bid from Bluegrass Fire Equipment was more than $236,000, well over the target of $200,000. County Attorney Brian Thomas said the court could accept the bid and enter competitive negotiations with the bidder to bring the cost down.

Jones said he believed he could negotiate down to $196,000 without sacrificing safety or efficiency of the equipment.

About Fred Petke

Fred Petke is a reporter for The Winchester Sun, the Jessamine Journal and the State Journal. His beats include cops, courts, fire, public records, city and county government and other news. To contact Fred, email or call 859-759-0051.

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