Pay raises for county employees will most likely be decided next week by Allen County Commissioners.
“We have to do something for our employees,” said Commissioner Tom Williams at Tuesday’s meeting.
Williams said he preferred wage adjustments to be decided on merit, not the federal cost-of-living index.
Department heads proposed a 5 percent wage increase for all employees. They justified the steep jump because of a return to higher Social Security taxes imposed by the federal government.
In 2011, Social Security taxes were reduced by 2 percent, from 6.2 to 4.2 percent. In January, the 2 percent was reinstated.
“Adding the 2 percent cut our employees’ spending power by that much,” argued Sheriff Bryan Murphy. “So, if they get just the 1.7 percent (COLA) increase, they’re actually going to be getting .3 of a percent less than before.”
All department heads said their budgets could handle 5 percent raises, if 1.3 percent were made available for merit raises.
“We appreciate you advocating for your employees,” said Dick Works, commission chairman. “I know we haven’t been able to be too generous in the past.”
Before deciding whether to accept all or part of the proposed raises, Williams said he would like to have a historical sketch of what wages had done the past five years, as well as a spread sheet to show what cost-of-living and merit raises would be in terms of dollars.
In addition to raises, Bill King, director of Public Works, said he thought employees would appreciate additional personal leave, which would be in addition to vacation time and “really wouldn’t cost anything.”
Employees now receive two days a year of personal leave. Vacation time starts with a week after a year’s service, two weeks through nine years and three weeks after 10 years.
No one disputed the attraction of days off with pay, but most department heads said they thought a pay increase was more of an incentive.
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