Commissioners to consider pay increase for county employees

Published 12:05 am Sunday, March 6, 2016

By Josh Bergeron

Rowan County government employees could be in for a notable pay boost when commissioners meet on Monday.

During their regularly scheduled meeting at 3 p.m., Rowan County Commissioners will consider a compensation study that’s taken one year to complete. As part of the study, commissioners will review seven potential options to boost pay for Rowan County employees. At the high end, county employees would receive an increase that averages 7.91 percent across all departments. At the low end, employees would receive an increase that averages 5.31 percent across all department.

To conduct its compensation study, Rowan compared itself to neighboring and similarly sized counties.

Exact details of the study’s findings won’t be publicly available until Monday, when Springstead Incorporated presents results of the compensation plan. An abstract included in Monday’s agenda documents states 393 of the county’s 770 employees are below a new minimum compensation amount. A total of 376 employees are within a pre-determined compensation range for his or her position. One employee is above the maximum pay amount for his or her position.

The option suggested to county commissioners by County Manager Aaron Church would increase pay by an average of 6.11 percent. Church said all employees won’t receive a 6.11 percent increase in pay. Employees will receive pay increases based on how his or her pay compares with a minimum amount determined in the county’s study. Some would receive increases larger than 6.11 percent. Other increases would be lower.

Church said his proposed option is the most balanced and financially responsible. It would cost Rowan County $1.7 million to implement its pay study.

In his proposal to commissioners, Church says the increase would be completely funded with an appropriation of $920,476 in the 2016-2017 fiscal year budget. Rowan County previously set aside $854,335 to pay for an increase in pay.

By approving Church’s proposal on Monday, commissioners hope to stem the flow of employees to other jobs with higher rates of pay. Commissioners say Rowan will never be able to match local government salaries of large counties such as Mecklenburg. The increase, however, could retain employees who make a lateral move to similarly sized counties.

Monday’s commissioners meeting will be in the second-floor meeting room of the county administration building on West Innes Street.

In other business on Monday’s agenda:

• County Commissioners will alter construction plans for an emergency medical services building in Rockwell to reduce construction costs.

Construction estimates for the Rockwell EMS station recently came in significantly over budget. County officials set aside $500,000 for the project, but the lowest bid for the project was $768,000 from Salisbury-based Vertex Construction Company.

To reduce costs, commissioners are scheduled to make the exterior of Rockwell’s EMS Station metal instead of brick. Originally, Rowan County officials and employees chose brick to blend in with surrounding structures in Rockwell. Church said altering the exterior would reduce costs without altering the building’s interior layout.

When asked about the change, Church said the EMS station could be reduced to $450,000 if changes are made to the building’s exterior.

• The Rowan County United Way will request $10,000 to help provide assistance to laid-off Freightliner employees.

About 1,400 employees of the Cleveland plant have lost their jobs in 2016. The United Way has provided coordinated various assistance for the unemployed workers.

• Commissioners are scheduled to give the county manager authorization to select an architect not to exceed $25,000 to design conceptual monuments or signs for entry ways into Rowan County.

Contact reporter Josh Bergeron at 704-797-4246.