Court freezes county pay

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By Jonna Spelbring Priester

General Manager

After a contentious discussion, the Henry County Fiscal Court voted to freeze salaries for all employees in 2010.

Though raises for all employees were included in the first draft of the county budget, they were removed prior to the second reading of the budget.

Pleasureville area magistrate Jerry Beasley proposed the amendment, and said that in the current economy, with residents losing their jobs, giving raises — even if the county is in the black — wouldn’t be prudent.

“There’s different people getting laid off, people taking a cut in pay just to keep their jobs,” he said. “It seems the right thing this year is not to be giving big raises, or raises at all. Even though they’ve got a job, they should be thankful they’ve got a job at all.”

Beasley’s motion, which passed on a 3-2 vote, removed what had been 25-cent per hour raises and cost of living adjustments for all employees in a balanced budget, as well as salary adjustments for Planning and Zoning administrator Greg Derossett and EMS supervisor Scott McClamroch. It also froze increases in magistrate pay. The county clerk, sheriff and judge-executive salaries will increase, as those are set by the state and not the fiscal court.

Henry County Judge Exeuctive John Logan Brent was frustrated by the motion and asked the court what do to for employees who perform exceptionally well.

“I want to know what I tell somebody that goes over and above and beyond,” he challenged.

Beasley responded saying that for such an employee “this day, he should be thankful he’s got a job.”

Beasley also argued that Derossett received a “good raise” in the last budget, which Brent countered was the same raise all county employees received. “Add it up, it’s a good sized raise,” Beasley said.

Brent’s question about incentive for employees was not directly answered, with Beasley deflecting by saying that with a tough economy, the county needed to do something for residents who couldn’t pay their taxes.

When Brent suggested lowering taxes as an answer to that problem, Beasley questioned where the money for raises would come from if taxes were lowered.

Magistrates Nick Hawkins and Adam West voted against the motion, saying that while they agreed freezing raises might make sense in the current economy, the two salary adjustments were rewarding exceptional employees.

Later in the meeting, Brent suggested a unique cost saving method. Hawkins, he said, turned back his magistrate’s salary when he missed meetings. Brent suggested the court adopt a policy that would require magistrates to return their salary for the week of a missed meeting.

The court approved the policy in a 3-2 vote, with Beasley and Brown voting no, but applied it only to regular business meetings and not committee meetings.

Brent later said he had not researched, however, whether state regulations regarding changes to magistrate salaries would apply. KRS 64.530 states that “no change of compensation shall be effective as to any member of a fiscal court during his term of office.”

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