05/29/14 — Commission questions automatic raise clause

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Commission questions automatic raise clause

By Steve Herring
Published in News on May 29, 2014 1:46 PM

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Wayne County Commissioners Joe Daughtery, left, and Ray Mayo question Interim County Manager George Wood, right, about a budget proposal that would provide a 2.5 percent salary increase for new county employees who successfully complete their probationary period.

Wayne County Commissioners Joe Daughtery and Ray Mayo on Tuesday questioned a provision in the county's $136 million budget proposal that new employees would be eligible for a 2.5 percent pay increase after successfully completing their probationary period.

Interim County Manager George Wood's budget proposal for fiscal year 2015-16 does not include any salary increases.

Wood is also recommending that employees who achieve certain work-related certifications be eligible for a 2.5 percent increase as well.

The draft budget also includes $500,000 that would pay for $500 bonuses for all full-time employees working at least a 40-hour week.

Part-time employees would receive an amount pro-rated based on their hours compared to the standard 40-hour week.

The bonuses would be paid in September.

A bonus provides more money to lower-paid employees as a percentage of income as opposed to a merit or cost-of-living adjustment, Wood said.

The draft budget assumes as well a 6 percent decrease in the medical insurance premiums the county sets aside for employees. The 6 percent decrease would apply as well to an employee's share of the premium cost for the various dependent care options.

However, most of the comments during Tuesday's budget unveiling centered on the proposed pay increase for new employees.

"Am I understanding that when somebody is hired that once they fill that probationary period they automatically get a 2.5 percent increase?" Daughtery said.

They should, Wood said.

"But I don't think that you have been doing that in recent years," he said. "That is fairly standard. In the past you had been doing it, but then you quit is my understanding."

It has been a "very long time," since the county stopped the process, finance director Pam Holt said.

The 2.5 percent is a step on the county's payroll plan, Wood said in response to a question by Chairman Wayne Aycock.

"But where I am going, has that been 100 percent across the board?" Aycock said. "Or has it been selective?"

Wood, who has served as interim manager since February, said he did not know the answer.

Mrs. Holt said she couldn't answer either because she had not being doing payroll at that time.

"This would not be selective," Wood said.

"This is certainly not common in the private sector," Mayo said.

Daughtery agreed.

"If an employee has been here, or even in my company, for 15 years and the starting rates keep going up every year, it is possible that they could come in at a given rate and get a 2.5 percent increase and actually be making more money than the person who has been here 15 years," Mayo said. "I hear that all of the time from some of the county employees.

"It doesn't wash in the private sector. I am not saying it is right or wrong. What I am saying is it could cause problems as far as the pay scale. We go on the premise that all raises are given on performance. That is what is the private sector does."

A person is not a permanent employee until he or she comes off the probationary period, Wood said.

"So it is more or less that the first step is viewed as temporary, and you are in a tryout period," he said. "If it works, you get the 2.5 percent and you stay. If it doesn't, then you don' have to give them any reason to let them go."

The 2.5 percent increase would be starting the employee's full-time position at the second step in the pay plan, Wood said.

Mayo wanted to know if the probationary employees started at a salary lower than the entry level salary.

They do not, they start at the entry level salary, Wood said.