Polk employee raise likely next fiscal year

Published 4:10 pm Friday, January 27, 2012

After four years without a salary increase, Polk County employees may see a bump in salaries next fiscal year.
The Polk County Board of Commissioners held a budget retreat Monday, Jan. 23 and discussed a possible 2.5 percent salary increase.
When and exactly how much the increase will be is still in question as some commissioners are proposing giving a 2.5 percent increase on July 1, when the new budget year begins, and another 1.5 percent on Jan. 1, 2013.
Polk County Manager Ryan Whitson proposed giving a 2.5 percent increase beginning on Jan. 1, 2013, which would cost approximately $87,000 in next year’s budget. Granting the additional 2.5 percent increase on July 1 would cost approximately $174,000.
“These people haven’t gotten an increase in three, close to four years,” said commissioner Ted Owens. “I propose 2.5 percent in July and another 1.5 percent in January for a total of four percent. That comes out to an average of one percent per year.”
Commissioner vice-chair Renée McDermott asked how Owens’ proposed increases would be paid for.
“What would you cut to find that money?” McDermott asked.
“I wouldn’t cut anything,” commissioner Tom Pack said. “We had a surplus this year. We really took in $1.6M more than we had budgeted, so I don’t think we need to cut anything besides taxes.”
Commissioner Cindy Walker said she likes the idea of implementing increases in July rather than waiting a year.
“I don’t know about another one percent, but I do like 2.5 percent and I like doing it in July,” Walker said.
Whitson also discussed implementing raises as in previous years, contingent on evaluations. Scoring well on performance would mean an employee gets the raise, while not scoring well on an evaluation means the employee does not get a raise.
Commissioner chair Ray Gasperson recommended that Whitson prepare two to three different budget drafts to see how increases can be achieved. Gasperson said he doesn’t think anyone is debating that it’s been a long time since employees have had an increase, but commissioners need to keep in mind the increase in costs will be ongoing through future budgets.
Gasperson said there has been a $1.6 million increase to the budget since 2006 for employee costs such as insurance and retirement.
“That was huge and yet we have absorbed that and it is an ongoing cost,” Gasperson said. “We have to look at ongoing costs and how it’s sustainable in the budget.”
Whitson is scheduled to present a balanced budget to commissioners on May 7. Commissioners will hold a budget work session to discuss the draft on May 14 at 5 p.m.