Commissioners debate pay raises

PARKERSBURG – Wood County commissioners debated giving employees a pay raise in light of the recent news the county’s ending balance came back $218,920 less than the projected $950,000.

As per their request, Clerk Jamie Six and Deputy Clerk Mark Rhodes provided revenues/expenditures for the past five years. Discussion of funding requests from outside entities was not on Monday’s agenda, so the commissioners put off that discussion, but they did discuss the possibility of a pay raise.

“I think a $1,000 raise is out of the question, in my personal opinion, even though by the information we’ve been given all the surrounding municipalities have all given pay raises to their employees,” commission President Wayne Dunn said.

“I think we need to bring the bottom up before we start addressing others. We have county employees who aren’t being paid a living wage. And I don’t know where the money for a raise is going to come from,” Commissioner Blair Couch said.

“I think we should just hold the line on the employees and through attribution not refill positions, then we’d have enough to cover pay raises,” Commissioner Steve Gainer said.

“You can’t do that, you can’t tell the other elected officials how to spend their budgets,” Couch said.

“Williamstown imposed a sales tax, Vienna has additional business and occupation tax coming in and Parkersburg instituted a user fee so they all have additional revenue coming in,” Couch said.

“We need to do something for the employees; we haven’t done anything for them for the five years I’ve been here. I think the right thing is to give something, and we need to keep looking for additional revenue sources. I know we can give them something and we can work it out in the budget later,” Dunn said. “We could take a percentage off each department, the question is how much.”

“I am not comfortable with taking money out of our reserves, until we adjust the budget,” Couch said.

“We give money to everyone who walks through that door. Why not cut the amount we give outside agencies. if we wouldn’t hire all those extra people, like in the holding center is a perfect example, do we really need all those people,” Gainer commented.

Six estimated it would cost about $144,000 to give a 35 cent-an-hour raise to all employees, including benefits. “You could cover $100,000 of that from the additional revenue the clerk’s office has received this year.”

“We didn’t do much in the way of budget hearings this time, not like we usually do, and now we just found out we aren’t getting the numbers we projected. We didn’t spend as much time on the budget this time as we have in the past. We just didn’t do as diligent a job this year going into the budget. But I’m wondering why there is such a push now, 22 days into the new budget to get this raise through,” Couch said.

“If you’ll recall, you told the employees back in February you would talk about it and let them know, and they just want to know,” Six said.

Dunn’s motion to give a 15 cents-an-hour raise to employees died for lack of second. A motion by Gainer to give a 50 cent pay raise with the caveat that county officials agree not to hire any additional employees for the next year in order to cover the cost, also died for lack of a second.

“You can give $10,000 to the air show, but you can’t find money for the employees’ pay raise,” Six commented.

The county has about $1.3 million in a rainy day fund.

“We have not seen a huge increase in revenue over these past five years, the revenues have risen very slowly compared to the expenditures,” Couch said. “This is a lot of information to digest in a short time.”

Assessor Rich Shaffer noted the county has had no new residential housing developments in the county for the past few years. “We have seen minimal increase in assessments, about the same growth over the last few years,” Shaffer said.