Raise for county workers closer to reality

J. H. Osborne • May 10, 2013 at 10:47 AM

BLOUNTVILLE — A proposal to give all of Sullivan County’s employees a 2 percent pay raise, retroactive to April 1, easily gained the endorsement of the Sullivan County Commission’s Budget Committee on Thursday.

With seven members present (Mark Bowery, Ty Boomershine, Moe Brotherton, John Crawford, Bob Neal, Robert White, and committee Chairman Eddie Williams), there were no “nays” on the move for approval.

Williams followed his usual practice, as chairman, and did not vote.

The committee’s thumbs up means the resolution, sponsored by White, will carry the recommendation of all three of the commission’s primary committees when it comes to the full commission for a vote. That could happen later this month, but it is not necessarily expected to until next month.

White initially said the resolution is submitted for “first reading” at the commission’s 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 this month would require a “waiver of the rules,” which requires a two-thirds majority — or at least 16 votes in the affirmative.

Last month, County Mayor Steve Godsey and Sheriff Wayne Anderson announced they’d reached an 11th-hour agreement to avert a trial in Anderson’s lawsuit seeking more funding for his department’s budget.

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

That will cost around $38,000 for the last three months of this fiscal year, which ends June 30. It will 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 spoke to reporters, and each said the Commission would consider extending the 2 percent raise to all non-school employees beginning July 1.

But a growing number of county commissioners say that’s just not fair — everyone should get the raise at the same time. White’s resolution calls to extend 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.”

White has said one person asked him to drop the issue for now because they were afraid Anderson would somehow be credited with getting the raise for all employees.

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