Pay raises for county employees on tap for coming year

Published 12:10 am Friday, May 22, 2015

By Josh Bergeron

Rowan County employees could receive two pay raises in the coming fiscal year.

Included in Rowan county’s budget for the 2015-2016 fiscal year, which begins on July 1, is a 1.7 percent cost-of-living pay raise. County Manager Aaron Church also budgeted an average pay raise of 3 percent — some county employees will receive more and some less — to be given about halfway through the fiscal year. The 3 percent raise is in conjunction with a compensation plan study that hasn’t yet begun.

The 1.7 percent cost-of-living increase doesn’t include Rowan-Salisbury School System employees, Church said.

The 2015-2016 fiscal year would be at least the third straight that a cost-of-living increase has been proposed by the county manager. For the 2014-2015 fiscal year, a 1.5 percent cost of living increase was recommended by Gary Page, the former county manager. A 1.5 percent increase based on seniority was also recommended for the 2013-2014 fiscal year.

Church said no cost-of-living increase was given in the 2010, 2011 or 2012 fiscal years. He said the recommended pay increase for the 2015-2016 fiscal year is based on the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Consumer Price Index.

“It’s to make sure that employees are receiving the increase that is consummate with the actual cost of living,” Church said about the proposed pay raise. “As prices go up, wages have to go up.”

As the manager in Yadkin County — his previous job — Church said he recommended similar cost-of-living pay increases.

The total amount of money recommended by Church to be given as a part the cost-of-living increase is $584,224.

Implementation of the 3 percent increase would be $854,335, according to Church’s proposed budget.

Commissioners approved a $37,000 contract in March with Springstead Inc., which has offices in multiple states. The plan is intended to assess whether Rowan County employees are paid fairly in comparison to surrounding counties.

During the meeting when commissioners approved the plan, Church said some employees may receive larger raises than others, depending on the market rates of pay.

County commissioners have discussed the fact that some employees leave for higher paying jobs in other counties as a reason for looking at raising employee pay.

Across Rowan County’s budget, several individual departments show increases in salaries. The increases, however, are a result of last year’s cost-of-living increase. This year, both cost-of-living and 3 percent increase are budgeted as part of general government expenditures. Church said the increases are initially budgeted as a part of general government and later transferred into each department.

If county commissioners adjust the rate of the increase, it’s easier to change salary amounts in general government than in each department, he said.

County commissioners on May 28 at 9 a.m. will have their first public discussion on the budget. The discussion will be part of a budget work session and be held in the Rowan County Administration Building on West Innes Street. A public hearing on the budget is scheduled for June 1 at 5:30 p.m. in the county’s administration building.

Contact reporter Josh Bergeron at 704-797-4246.