Polk government staff increased 8 percent since 2006

Published 12:08 pm Thursday, December 29, 2011

Full-time equivalent employees included in audit report

While it appeared Polk County government employees increased by 45.2 percent since fiscal year 2006, the method of reporting changed and employees actually only increased by 8.5 percent.

The Bulletin published an article recently citing Polk County’s top employers over the past five fiscal years that stated the number of employees grew in Polk County from 155 in 2006 to 225 in 2011. The numbers were taken from Polk’s audit report, but the information did not show “apples to apples.”

The method of reporting the numbers changed over the years with full-time equivalent (FTE) employees reported in 2006 and total employees, including part-time employees reported in 2011, according to the Polk County finance department. The same occurred with Polk County Schools’ information.

Polk County Finance Officer Sandra Hughes said that the FTEs were too difficult to get from employers other than the school, county and hospital due to most employers not keeping track of FTEs, therefore, her office changed the methodology and collected total employees.

Another report, also included in the county’s audit report compares FTE employees for Polk County government that goes back to fiscal year 2003 and shows a more accurate account of how the government has grown.

FTE is defined as the number of employees that equals one full-time employee. For example, two part-time employees that work 20 hours per week equal one FTE.

In 2003 Polk County had 130.2 FTE employees, in 2006 the county had 154.8 FTE employees and in 2011, the county had 167.9 FTE employees, according to the report.

The school system in 2011 had approximately 350 FTEs compared to its 366 FTEs in 2006, meaning employees in the school system decreased over the past five years.

The county’s employment has grown by 37.7 FTE employees since 2003, or 29 percent and by 13.1 FTE employees since 2006, or 8.5 percent.

Polk County government has remained in the top five employers of the county since 2006, following Polk County Schools, St. Luke’s Hospital and Tryon Estates.

Polk County government FTE employee comparison

Year    FTE employees        %change by year

2003   130.2

2004   140.7  8.1%

2005   144.9  3.0%

2006   154.8  6.8%

2007   160.5  3.7%

2008   172.8  7.7%

2009   174.4  0.93%

2010   170.0  -2.5%

2011   167.9  -1.2%