Fiscal Court votes to change county pay plan

The Clark County Fiscal Court is looking to remove several positions from the county’s compensation plan and allow the fiscal court to set their salaries.

Wednesday, the court voted 5-2 to approve the first reading of the amendment to the ordinance, which would affect the county treasurer, emergency management director, road supervisor and the judge-executive’s staff including the deputy judge-executive.

The compensation plan was approved last year after about two years of work. Part-time employees and volunteer firefighters were not included, and the emergency management director was omitted because he was paid through multiple sources.

While state statute does not specify salaries, it gives that duty to the fiscal court to set salaries when those positions are filled.

Magistrate Daniel Konstantopoulos, who served on the committee that developed the pay plan, said including those positions was an oversight.

“One thing we never took into consideration was the change of leadership (is) everything defers to KRS (Kentucky Revised Statute),” he said. “This does address this. They will still be receiving their 1 percent increase on July 1.”

The county compensation plan puts every position within county government in a certain grade with a minimum salary. Each year, employees can earn raises with additional steps within the grade.

“We’re trying to square this with state law,” Magistrate Chris Davis said. “Overall, I like the pay plan. When you include positions created by statute, I think it’s a mistake.”

Magistrate Robert Blanton questioned whether the change was related the the court’s Jan. 9 meeting, in which the court voted to hire Janet Townsend as a deputy judge-executive, though the position was not in the county pay plan.

“If this is not the case, why didn’t we do this before we created something not in the pay plan? Blanton asked. “This appears to be, ‘We did something improper and we’re trying to correct it.’”

Magistrate Travis Thompson said his concern was it would give the fiscal court free reign to set salaries for some positions.

“It’s giving the fiscal court a blank check,” he said. “There’s no guidepost. We don’t have to do what every other county does.”

Blanton and Thompson voted against the amendment, which requires a second reading before it becomes law.

The court also voted 5-2 to move its second monthly meeting to 6:30 p.m. on the fourth Thursday of each month. The court currently meets on the second and fourth Wednesdays at 9:30 a.m.

Clark County Judge-Executive Chris Pace said an evening meeting would provide an opportunity for those who work during the day or in another town to attend a meeting and address any concerns.

Blanton said the court had tried evening meetings in the past with negligible effect on audience.

“If they want to be here, they will be here regardless of what time it is,” he said.

“I think the question is how available we are in a public setting,” Davis said. “If they have a concern … and they want to attend one meeting, we need to be available. I’ve had people say, ‘I’d like to attend a fiscal court meeting but I’m stuck in a cubicle all day.’”

The first reading was approved 5-2, with Blanton and Thompson voting no.

In other action, the fiscal court:

— noted the indigent burial of Robert Lee Mizell.

— accepted copies of a county fire study recently completed by the Bluegrass Area Development District. The study is scheduled to be discussed at the court’s next meeting.

— approved an order to declare road sign materials as surplus.

— appointed Laura Harkness Edwards to the Winchester-Clark County Recreation, Tourism and Convention Commission.

— appointed Bruce Manley to the Winchester-Clark County Industrial Development Authority.

— reappointed Neal Oliver to the Clark County Fire Department committee.

— approved an order to amend the salary for the finance officer and assistant treasurer to correct an error.