Some commissioners seek to extend sheriff's office raises to all Sullivan employees

J. H. Osborne • Apr 28, 2013 at 9:20 AM

BLOUNTVILLE — What’s good for one county department’s employees is good for the rest of the county’s employees.

That’s the position several Sullivan County commissioners have taken regarding a retroactive 2 percent pay raise granted to employees of the sheriff in a lawsuit settlement earlier this week.

County Commissioner Robert White is the primary sponsor of a resolution calling to extend that 2 percent pay increase to all other non-school employees of the county.

“I think we need to be fair and equitable,” White told the Times-News on Friday. “And I don’t think we were.”

On Wednesday, County Mayor Steve Godsey and Sheriff Wayne Anderson announced they’d reached an 11th-hour agreement to avert a trial — which was to have begun that morning — in Anderson’s lawsuit seeking more funding for his department’s budget.

The major concession of the settlement was a 2 percent pay raise for all sheriff’s employees, retroactive to April 1.

That’ll cost around $38,000 for the last three months of this fiscal year, which ends June 30.

It’ll continue into years ahead, costing about four times as much for a full year.

After that settlement was approved by the judge and entered into court record, Godsey and Anderson each spoke to reporters and each said the Sullivan County Commission would consider extending the 2 percent raise to all non-school employees beginning July 1.

The resolution calls for extending the 2 percent raise retroactively to non-sheriff’s employees “in an effort to be fair and equitable to those employees who have faithfully served this county ... and are deserving.”

On Friday, White said he’s heard some rumblings against his push for extending the 2 percent to all county employees before July 1 — but that he has received enough positive feedback to think enough commissioners will support it when it comes for a vote.

White said he’d even had one person ask him to drop the issue for now because they were afraid Anderson would somehow be credited with getting the raise for all employees.

“The impetus behind my resolution was to be fair and equitable across the board,” White said. “Not to be reactive to a lawsuit.”

Primary co-sponsors of the resolution, as of Friday afternoon, were Cathy Armstrong, Bryan Boyd, and Bob Neal.

White said that for now, the resolution is submitted for “first reading” at the Commission’s next full meeting on May 20. If left with that status, it would not be expected to come for a vote until a month later — meaning it would need a simple majority, or at least 13 voting “yes,” to gain approval.

To call for a vote in May would require a “waiver of the rules,” which requires a two-thirds majority — or at least 16 votes in the affirmative.

If approved, the 2 percent pay raise for non-sheriff’s, non-school employees will cost about $40,000 for employees under the county’s general fund, White said, and funding to cover the raise for employees of the Highway Department, Sullivan County Emergency Medical Service, Solid Waste, and Observation Knob Park will come from existing funds in those accounts.

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