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By JUDY UNDERWOOD
Morgan County News Editor
It looks like support staff working for Morgan County Schools will get a pay increase after all.
Director of Schools Mike Davis and Board Chairman Terry Armes met with the budget committee Thursday night and the two groups came to a compromise that should put at least a few more dollars in the hands of some of the county’s lowest paid employees.
The county commissioners who make up the budget committee have agreed to add one cent to the tax rate for schools which will give the Board an additional $22,000 to go toward raises and then the Board will work within its budget to come up with the remainder of the money needed. Support staff should receive a one percent pay increase and an additional bonus of one percent which will add a collective two percent to their salaries for 2008-09. The bonus may not be repeated in 2010 if budget constraints remain the same.
That additional penny did not raise the overall tax rate as a penny will be pulled from General County.
The Board then met in special session Monday night to approve the changes to its proposed budget.
Board members and county commissioners all expressed a desire to do better and an appreciation for the county employees but said that during such a tough economic time it was difficult to do better.
However some county employees are set to fair considerably better in the coming year if the full county commission approves the proposed budget.
A request to increase the salary of the finance director has snowballed into an increase for the directors of the sanitation department and emergency medical services.
Sanitation Director Leamon Woods attended the budget committee meeting last week to ask why the finance director was getting a 9.9 percent pay increase while his was only five percent.
“What I want to know is why did it change?” Woods questioned. “Five percent is more than I ever expected and I’d be happy with two percent but I’m not happy with the discrepancy.”
In the end the committee voted to give Woods and EMS Director Larry Potter both 9.9 percent pay increases.
Morgan County Executive Becky Ruppe pointed out that Potter may object to the raise because he didn’t want the lower one.
Budget Committee Chairman Randy Roberts told the committee that it could not give any raises this year as the county struggles through tough economic times.
The budget committee ended its meeting after about three hours of deliberation Thursday night. It will meet again just prior to the county commission meeting scheduled for 7 p.m. on Monday, Aug. 11.