During its regular meeting Wednesday, the Clark County Fiscal Court chose not to approve seven potential employee salary increases requested by the county fire and road departments.
Orders for pay increases were on the agenda for the meeting, but after some discussion commissioners Rick Smith and Vanessa Rogers would not second Judge-Executive Henry Branham’s motion for status changes and salary increases for the seven county employees.
A 25-cent pay increase was recommended for select road department workers. Road Department Supervisor Kevin Wilson argued for the increases and cited earlier increases approved by the commissioners.
“If we’re going to be fair, let’s be fair,” Wilson said.
Smith and Rogers both said they could not approve the motion without reviewing the budget. Smith also said he does not support step increases this year due to the current financial situation.
Wilson argued his budget could handle an increase and the lack of raises could be damaging to the county in the future.
“If we don’t try to work at this ... then we’re not going to have any employees,” he said. “I know my budget backwards and forwards.”
Smith countered that the raises would have an effect beyond just this fiscal year and other departments would have to be treated the same in terms of step increases, putting a larger burden on the county.
“We’re having issues with financial management within the county,” Branham said. “We have very little material things in our budget. Our business is our people. We have what’s called evaluation raises, which allow us to set the budget and evaluate how much space we have for employee raises. We have no raises for this fiscal year, and so we have a morale issue in the county.”
Branham said there was a large amount of turnover at the jail, which compromised public safety due to minimum employee coverage. So in an effort to retain employees, two of the jail employees received 75-cent raises and they implemented giving these raises to employees after six months of uninterrupted service.
“We want to be able to reward our employees for their services, but not compromise the integrity of the county finances,” Branham said.
Branham emphasized the struggle on raising employees’ salary just six months after beginning service, and it would be hard to keep it fair when employees have been working for years and are making the same thing as an employee that has been there for six months. He said that budget and fairness are just some of the things they are dealing with in fiscal court.
A motion to raise the salary of three firefighters was also not approved.
Commissioner JoEllen Reed was unable to attend the meeting Wednesday because of a prior appointment. She could not be reached for comment by press time.
In other business, the court also:
— spoke with Dave Diederich, a consultant hired to help in the search for a new treasurer. Cheryl Wills, the director of finances for the county, is serving as the interim treasurer until a permanent replacement is found.
— discussed cutting costs associated with dead farm animal removal with Bluegrass Recycling. A representative from the company will be at the Feb. 27 meeting to discuss ideas.
— discussed possible bridge replacement on Grimes Mill Road.
— continued discussion about starting with a “zero” budget for next year and how that process will work.