Sullivan County employees to receive pay increase

J. H. Osborne • May 20, 2013 at 10:07 PM

BLOUNTVILLE — A 2 percent pay raise, retroactive to April 1, is officially coming for all of Sullivan County government’s non-school, non-sheriff’s employees.

The Sullivan County Commission voted overwhelmingly in favor of the move on Monday. County Commissioner Ed Marsh cast the only “no” vote.

Last month, 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.

But almost immediately a number of county commissioners said that just was not fair — everyone should get the raise at the same time.

County Commissioner Robert White was primary sponsor of the resolution calling 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 originally said the resolution was submitted for “first reading” this month.

If left with that status, it would not have come for a vote until next month — meaning it would need a simple majority, or at least 13 voting “yes,” to gain approval.

Calling for a vote this month required a “waiver of the rules,” which requires a two-thirds majority — or at least 16 votes in the affirmative.

After putting the resolution on first reading when it first came up Monday, White asked to revisit the issue — and called for a vote — at the end of the meeting.

The county’s next budget year begins July 1. Committees are just beginning the process of developing a proposed financial plan for that budget cycle.

That’s one reason supporters of White’s resolution said the issue needed to be voted on now — so a realistic discussion can occur as the budget is being developed.

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.

For the 12-month budget cycle that begins July 1, the 2 percent raise for sheriff’s and all other non-school employees will cost the county about $640,000 per year, according to the county’s payroll office.

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