County Weighs Salaries

WINNSBORO (April 22, 2016) – One of the main drivers behind a recommended $335,051 increase in 2016-2017 general fund expenditures, Interim Administrator Milton Pope told County Council last week, is bringing the salaries of County employees up to minimum standard levels based on a recently completed classification and compensation study.

Also contributing to that increase, Pope said during the April 12 work session, is a proposed 2 percent cost of living increase for all County employees and the retirement system benefits and tax contributions that come with it.

Deputy County Administrator Davis Anderson told Council that according to the study, completed by The Archer Company of Rock Hill in January, the salaries of 218 of the County’s 309 eligible employees fall between the study’s recommended minimums and maximums for their respective positions and will not have to be adjusted. Nineteen employees, he said, are currently paid above the study’s recommended maximum.

That leaves 72 employees, Anderson said, who are currently being paid too little when compared to surrounding counties with which Fairfield competes for labor.

According to Archer’s letter to the County dated Jan. 18, the company used as comparison data from Lancaster, Richland, Lexington, Horry, Chester, Marlboro, Kershaw, Laurens, Greenwood and Newberry counties, as well as surrounding water and sewer authorities, schools, libraries, housing authorities and some private sector employers.

Of the 72 salaries falling below the recommended minimum, 50 positions are in what Anderson called “safety sensitive jobs.”

“The impacted employees,” Anderson told Council, “are mostly correction officers, EMTs, safety sensitive employees.”

Should Council adopt the plan, bottom-end EMTs currently making $27,419 would see their pay increase to $29,187. Correctional officers earning $27,391 would see their salary rise to $29,184. Sheriff’s deputies earning $29,500 would see their pay increase to $30,650. Telecommunications employees below the minimum at $23,108 would see their salary increase to $29,184.

Bringing these employees up to the minimum recommended by the study, Pope said, will add $156,023 to 2016-2017 general fund expenditures. The 2 percent cost of living increase, which Pope said was the same figure currently being considered for state employees, will cost the County $256,481.

“If we’re going to call it a ‘cost of living’ increase, maybe that should be tied to something like the CPI (Consumer Price Index),” District 7 Councilman Billy Smith said. “That’s just a thought.”

Smith said he tended to favor merit-based salary increases, which Pope said could be an option – but not before the County’s lowest-paid employees were brought up to minimum basic standards.

“If we want to go to a straight pay for performance, and I’ve been a part of those, I think the first thing you have to do is just to have everybody in the plan to have a viable plan,” Pope said. “If you want to do something with the 2 percent, that’s a debatable issue.”

 

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