Polk spends $109K on merit based employee raises this year

Published 10:00 pm Monday, February 8, 2016

By Leah Justice


Many Polk County government employees recently received a merit increase in pay following evaluations this year that cost the county $109,504 for this fiscal year and will cost $219,008 annually moving forward.

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This was the first year Polk decided to do salary increases based on evaluations instead of an across the board increase.

Employees could either receive no increase, a 2.5 percent increase or a five percent increase, based on their individual evaluation.

Polk County commissioners approved spending up to $200,000 for merit increases during the budget approval last June. The increases became effective the first full pay period in January, which was Jan. 11.

“The fact that we only spent a little more than half of the total allocated budget for performance based merit salary increases demonstrates that the staff took the initiative seriously,” said Polk County Manager Marche Pittman. “When available, these types of increases will be used as a tool to ultimately enhance the level of service delivered to our citizens. I am very proud of our employees because I know that they are one of our strongest assets.”

The county spent approximately 54.8 percent of its allocated budget for salary increases.

Of the county’s 249 employees on payroll as of Jan. 1, 2016, there were 160 employees eligible to receive an increase. Some employees had not yet been employed past the six-month probationary period and others are not permanent employees.

There were 138 regular full-time employees who received salary increases for a total of $102,799 this fiscal year. There were 22 part-time employees who received increases totaling $6,705.

The merit increases were based on performance criteria, including job knowledge and ability to apply knowledge; quality, quantity and timeliness of duties; organization of work and meeting deadlines; observation of work hours and attendance; verbal and written communication; interaction with peers, supervisors and public; acceptance of change, flexibility and willingness to help out when needed; professionalism in performing job duties and the ability to maintain confidentiality regarding county-sensitive data and information.

The rating scale for each dimension represented “exceeds,” “meets,” or “below” expectations, according to Pittman’s report to the board of commissioners. Point values were assigned to each rating with the totals determining the amount of salary increase. Values between 0-8 meant no increase, values between 8-12 meant a 2.5 percent increase and values between 13-18 meant a five percent increase.

The Bulletin requested a breakdown of increases for the county’s top four departments containing the most employees eligible for a raise.

The sheriff’s office had the most employees eligible to receive merit increases at 33 employees. In the sheriff’s office, one employee no increase and 32 received a five-percent salary increase. The board of commissioners during the fiscal year 2015-2016 budget approval also approved $54,609 worth of sheriff’s office salary increases that began on July 1, 2015.

The department of social services had 23 employees eligible for merit increases. Of the total, one employee received no increase, nine employees received a 2.5 percent increase and 13 employees received a five percent increase.

Both the transportation department and EMS had 14 employees eligible for increases. EMS had seven employees receive a 2.5 percent increase and seven employees receive a five percent increase.

The transportation department had one employee receive no increase, four employees receive a 2.5 percent increase and nine employees receive a five percent increase.