Pay Boost Possible For County Employees
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Cannon County government employees have not received a pay raise in two years.

However, as work is set to begin on a budget for the 2010-2011 fiscal year, an increase in salary for county workers could be a possibility.

How much money city and county government departments will have to operate on, and whether employees will receive raises, will be the subject of upcoming budget meetings by both the Town of Woodbury and the Cannon County Commission.

Both the town and the county will be going over budget requests from their various departments over the next few months as they work to finalize their projected spending for the 2010-2011 fiscal year.

With the economy continuing to be stagnant, the decision-makers will be faced with some tough choices. Here is what and whom the budgets affect:

• Citizens who pay taxes and receive services.

• Town and county departments who provide the services.

• Employees who work in the county and town.

Proposed county budgets were due Friday, March 26. No dates have been set for budget meetings.

“Proposed” is the key word, County Executive Mike Gannon said. “I’m sure there will be some things asked for that will not be awarded.”

After every department submits their

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proposed 2010-2011 budget, the county executive’s office will go over them and put them into budget form, Gannon said.

Gannon said he is trying to hold the request for raises to three percent. However, he added he is uncertain whether raises will be given this year.

“I can’t say that, I don’t know, I have not discussed that (raises) with the budget committee. I don’t know what their thinking is on that.”

Mark Barker, who chairs the county commission’s budget committee, said he is not yet ready to address the subject of a pay increase for county employees.

“We always try to be conservative with our budgeting and we’ll try to continue to do so,” Barker said.

Barker, Greg Mitchell and Bill Jennings are on the county budget committee.

Barker noted that while county workers have not received a pay raise in recent years, during that time “the cost-of-living hasn’t gone up much either.”

Rather than as a group, Barker said the committee might be “looking at an individual basis as far as raises. I would like to give county employees a raise or a bonus. That’s (bonuses) are also an option.

“We will have to look at the figures and see what we have to work with. It (raises or bonuses) might be possible but I don’t want to say yet.”

Barker hopes to begin budget hearings before the next commission meeting, scheduled for April 17.

“We don’t know what the state budget will be yet so we are going to try to keep up with last year’s budget,” Barker added.

Woodbury employees received an average raise last year of $0.50 per hour.

“At this point, we do not know how the numbers will fall, but if ‘pay raises’ are not feasible this time, we will certainly try to factor in a ‘cost of living adjustment’. If the COLA becomes the option, it would be paid in December 2010 and June 2011 to the employees. The COLA would not increase the employees current pay rate. It is just uncertain right now, but hopefully the employees will be able to receive something,” Charlene Odom, city recorder, said.

The budget process for Woodbury is already at the begining stages, Odom said.

“The department heads will submit their budgets to me early April. I will begin to compile the figures and review them with Mayor (Harold) Patrick. We hope to have a proposed budget to present to the council at the May meeting. Usually, they will pass it on first reading at that time; study it and make any amendments at the June meeting, before adoption on final reading,” Odom said.

Odom said she doesn’t foresee any drastic increases, or cuts, coming for the town’s budget.

“I believe everyone will try to operate as closely as possible to the current fiscal year’s budget; hopefully there will not have to be any drastic cuts made. The department heads will make every effort to present a balanced budget , with no tax increases or water/sewer rate increases.”

The majority of the revenue for general fund operations comes from local property taxes, local option sales tax, and state-shared taxes.

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