Opinion – Judge discusses proposed employee benefits

I am happy to report the first employee basic computer training program was a success. Six county staff members completed four hours of Excel training. Employees were very appreciative of the opportunity to improve on these skills. The invitation for any volunteer, lay instructors from our area to conduct a refresher course pertaining to any of the Microsoft Word, Excel, Outlook and PowerPoint programs is solicited. Caldwell County provides some very good computer equipment and we are dedicated to training our employees how to use the many programs we install on this new equipment.

My first priority in preparing the FY 2012-2013 county budget was consideration of employee benefits. This is the second year of this consideration with employee salary increases to achieve parity when comparing our employee salaries with 35 other counties of similar populations across the state. The Human Resource (HR), Department was tasked to research these benefits and rank Caldwell County employee salaries and benefits with this sampling.

It should be noted that health insurance continues to increase by $500 per employee. It is budgeted as a compensation of $7,400 per employee 2012-2013. My proposed salary increase is $2,000 per employee for this budget compared to the total $2,100 increase last year.

Last year’s initial proposed raise in my budget was $1,000; after the Commissioner Court budget hearings it was elevated after debate to $1,600. As we promised a mid-year raise, should sufficient increases of revenues, sales tax and federal inmate housing allow, I proposed the adding of an additional $500 per non-elected employee, all raises, totaling $2,100.00 last year.

The elected officials missed the additional $1,100 of the $2,100 increase given to their employees.  A “make-up” of $1,100 has been suggested for elected officials who were not allowed by law to receive it last year, because the initial public posting was for a $1,000 raise.

These are significant raises and should be recognized as our effort to bring our employees compensation in line with our piers when comparing us to the other 35 counties of similar populations and parameters used by HR when conducting this survey.  Depending on our financial ability, our plan may take 5-7 years to accomplish this parity. The good news continues to be that through cooperation with elected county officials preparing this budget, with sound fiscal principals and dedication, we are able to once again fairly compensate our most valuable resource, our employees.

As last budget, I am proposing to cut the tax rate! Currently we have reserve funding of over four months.

Your County Judge Tom D. Bonn

 

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