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County budget might include money for raises

Posted: June 3, 2012 - 12:02am

When Columbia County commissioners likely approve a new $56 million general fund budget Tuesday, it might include raises for some county employees as recommended in a recent salary study.

The study, conducted in February by Augusta-based accounting firm Serotta, Maddocks, Evans & Co., recommended pay increases for 11 of the 18 positions examined.

However, only some of those positions might get a bump in pay, said County Administrator Scott Johnson.

Jobs recommended for more pay include probationary positions for dispatcher, jailer, detention officer and sheriff’s deputy; some maintenance trade workers; maintenance crew leaders; heavy equipment operators; craftsmen; administrative coordinators; building inspectors; and administrative specialists.

But some positions under the supervision of Sheriff Clay Whittle, including probationary deputies and jailers, are under consideration, Johnson said.

“We spoke to the sheriff and he is not ready to do that right now,” Johnson said of the raises. “He feels comfortable with the number he is paying.”

The midpoint salary – the average amount of annual pay between the lowest- and highest-paid employee in each position – range between $31,041 for multiple positions to $41,598 for a job trainer.

The average additional annual cost for each position to give the recommended raises is $35,755, according to data from Serotta, Maddocks, Evans & Co.

There were no figures on how many employees might be eligible for those raises. And since the raises aren’t guaranteed until the commission approves the recommendations for each position, there’s no way to accurately calculate the total affect on the budget.

To conduct the salary study, accountants surveyed 10 counties in multiple states of similar size and demographics as Columbia County.

The lowest salary earned in the positions considered in Columbia County is $15,245, about $3,000 less than the average low salary of the surveyed counties, according to the study.

However, the highest salary of those positions was $117,972, about $6,000 more than the average.

None of the salaries considered included allowances for vehicles or mobile phones, which often are used as recruiting incentives, including in Columbia County.

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