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Bonuses for county workers?

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Commissioners to decide Monday

By Damon Lawrence

Elected officials will be allowed to grant employee bonuses if a resolution calling for such passes the Roane County Commission next week.
“I hope it passes, because the county employees deserve it,” Circuit Court Clerk Kim Nelson said. “All of my deputy clerks work hard, and I would like to see them rewarded.”
The commission meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. Monday at the courthouse in Kingston.
The budget committee voted 4-0 on Aug. 28 to recommend the employee-bonus resolution to the full commission.
Commissioner Copper Bacon said he is aware some people are opposed to the bonuses.
“They wouldn’t pour a cup of water on you if you needed a drink, but I’m not like that,” Bacon said. “I’m a giver, not a taker. Those people work hard, and I want to pay them.”
If the commission passes the resolution, $245,294 would be appropriated for bonuses.
Roane County Executive Ron Woody said his office calculated $375 for each permanent part-time worker — someone who works a minimum of 1,000 hours a year — and $750 for each full-time employee.
Each worker won’t necessarily receive those amounts, however. What an employee receives is up to the elected official they work for.
“It’s set up so that it’s at the elected officials’ discretion,” Woody said.
Last year employees received a 2-percent raise. Earlier this year, there was some talk about employees possibly receiving a 4-percent raise, but officials said they realized the county wasn’t in a position to do that financially when they got further along in the budget process.
“If it’s sustainable, we look for the raise,” Woody said. “If we’re not sure about sustainability, you look for the bonus.”
Trustee Wilma Eblen said her employees would like to see raises, but a bonus is welcome.
“After we had the budget meeting back in the spring, they thought there was a 4-percent raise on the table, but that evaporated,” she said. “They will appreciate the bonus.”
County school system employees are not eligible for the bonus.