Employees of the Commissioner of the Revenue’s Office will not get a requested salary increase after three different motions were voted down July 14 by the Carroll County Board of Supervisors.
During the board’s May 12 meeting, Commissioner of Revenue Fran McPherson asked supervisors for a 12 percent salary increase for her employees now that the county has combined the Assessor’s Office with the Commissioner of the Revenue’s Office. Supervisors elected to table the request until a later date since the combination of offices didn’t take effect until July 1. In a tight budget crunch this year, supervisors said they combined the offices in an effort to balance the county budget without raising taxes for Fiscal Year 2014-2015.
Supervisor Bob Martin began the discussion with a motion to give four of McPherson’s employees a 12 percent raise. The motion never received a second, so Martin amended his motion to a 5 percent raise. After the motion failed to carry with a 3-3 tie, Supervisor Tom Littrell made a motion to revisit the discussion in three months once more was known about the increased level of duties employees in the office would handle. That motion also died due to a 3-3 vote.
During Supervisors’ Time, Martin asked McPherson about the requested salary increase. She said a 12 percent salary increase would get her four full-time employees in line with other county employees. She said she didn’t ask for a raise for herself.
Martin then made a motion for the four existing employees in McPherson’s office taking on extra duties to receive a 12 percent increase.
“I am not going to say anything I haven’t already told Fran. I can’t say I wholeheartedly agree with 12 percent,” said Supervisor Joshua Hendrick. “I will say in my management experience I give raises for two reasons, because they are all-stars and for change of duties. That is why I say, in my opinion, it is open for consideration, but I can’t agree with 12 percent.”
McPherson said she asked for a 12 percent increase because it would bring her employees in line with other county employees.
“At this point it doesn’t have to be 12 percent, I just want some type of recognition for my employees for the extra duties they are going to be taking on,” she said. “We have been training and going out in the field with (retiring county assessor Janie Harrison) on the days she is here. I know of at least three of my employees now know how to measure a house and rate it. So we are working on making this all work and I would just like them recognized.”
When a second never came, Martin amended his motion for a 4 percent salary increase instead of 12.
“Make it five (percent) and I will second it,” Supervisor Sam Dickson said.
Martin then changed his motion to 5 percent and Dickson seconded it “because of the extra duties.”
Chairman David Hutchins said he felt like it might be premature to put a figure out there until more is known about the extra duties the employees are taking on.
“I am not against paying people what they deserve, but I think until you know what that should be, you may not know the scope of work that it may be and to arbitrarily put five percent out there may or may not be a fair or good number,” Hutchins said. “My opinion is it is premature to say until you see what that scope is, and then you would factor that into the next budget cycle because I am not sure where you come up with those dollars.”
Supervisor Phil McCraw said he was involved in the county budget process this year along with Hendrick and Supervisor Tom Littrell. Tough choices had to be made to come up with a budget with no tax increase, he said.
“I think we all had a common goal of trying to keep in the front of our minds that a lot of the citizenry of Carroll County is hurting. And we did not want to raise taxes. If we raised taxes one cent or two cents, this would all be a moot point. But we felt like we couldn’t afford a tax increase because people are hurting,” McCraw said. “And so many of these people hurting don’t understand why people are getting these increases in pay. I have been approached by constituents since this all started being talked about a couple of months ago and they were very concerned we were being too free with the taxpayers’ money. I am not saying Fran’s people don’t deserve a raise. We just don’t have the money. And I think we need to remember our citizens need to come first. So I don’t think we can afford to do it.”
With that said, Martin wanted to know if the county was taking the position it would not vote to approve any expense the remainder of the year.
“That’s not what I am saying at all Bob. We never know when a true necessity or emergency might arise and we might have to do something at that time, but we have to be very prudent in our thinking,” McCraw said. “We have to remember the money we are handling and we are responsible for isn’t our money, it is the citizens of Carroll County…Some of these folks that are having to pay these taxes, that do pay them because that is what the law says you are supposed to do, it takes every last thing they have got to pay them, and I just want to do everything I can within my power to try to help people like that. There are a lot of people in Carroll County who are struggling. I am not saying if something comes up in an emergency situation we can’t do something. I am not saying that come another tax year maybe we can work something out. I work in a public place and I know how people are hurting and I sympathize with them. It breaks my heart. I feel we like have to remember those people.”
Dickson wanted to know how much a 5 percent increase would cost the county. McPherson said a 12 percent increase would cost between $12,000 and $15,000, therefore a 5 percent increase would be about $6,000.
“I am in line with the chairman’s comments when he said he would like to revisit this at a later time when we have a shakedown of the duties to see who is doing what,” Littrell said. “I will make a motion to table this for three months and revisit it after we see how things go in the office.”
Hendrick seconded the motion, which failed due to a tie. Hendrick, Littrell and Hutchins voted in favor of the motion, with McCraw, Dickson and Martin voting against it.
Since the motion failed, Hutchins went back to Martin’s motion for a 5 percent increase. It also failed due to a tie vote, with Hendrick, Dickson and Martin voting in favor, and McCraw, Littrell and Hutchins voting against it.