HC salary hikes continue

Published 8:57 am Thursday, January 24, 2013

WINTON – When mired at or near the bottom, there’s no direction to go other than up.

That the route Hertford County’s Board of Commissioners have chosen as they continued their efforts here Tuesday night to improve the salaries of local government employees.

In a unanimous vote, the board opted to reclassify the pay grades of several low-paid employees as well as increasing the salary of the county’s Veterans Service Officer.

Holly Brooks, the county’s Human Resources Director, presented the plan to the commissioners, which was adopted following a motion from Howard Hunter III and a second from Bill Mitchell.

Brooks said the reclassifications were part of the county’s recent study of all local government salaries. As part of that effort, Brooks said some of the pay grades were identified as, “not situated where they should be.”

“These (reclassification) requests keep us in the position we want to be in in the marketplace (when recruiting and retaining employees),” Brooks stated.

One part of the plan called for moving the county Housekeeper positions (three employees) from Grade 1 (salary range: $17,653 to $27,362) to Grade 2 (salary range: $18,535 to $28,730).

Brooks pointed out that according to the 2012 guidelines as established by the Department of Health & Human Services, a person making an annual salary of $19,090 in a three-person household is deemed as living in poverty.

“Some of our employees are making below that,” she said. “We want to lead the market, not lag behind. We need to pay our employees so they can at least earn a living wage.”

Brooks also stated that by increasing the salaries of the housekeeper positions would place Hertford County above the minimum annual salaries paid by three nearby counties (Bertie, Martin and Northampton) for this same position.

In the Department of Social Services, Brooks said there was one job – Community Social Services Assistant – that earned the county’s lowest annual wage ($18,727).

“In reviewing this particular position, I realized there was a great deal of risk that comes with this job,” Brooks said. “The person in this position drives a county-owned automobile, taking clients out to appointments as well as children and caregivers,” Brooks noted.

She added that the State Office of Personnel has this same position graded four levels higher than Hertford County. Thus, Brooks recommended reclassifying this position from Grade 1 to Grade 3, with a minimum annual salary of $19,462.

For the county’s Housekeeper Coordinator position, Brooks recommended moving that annual salary from Grade 3 (salary range: $19,462 to $30,167) to Grade 4 (salary range: $20,436 to $30,614).

“The desire here was to align the Housekeeper Coordinator with similar positions within county government with supervisory responsibilities,” Brooks noted. “Reclassifying this job puts Hertford County in a favorable position, salary wise, over other local counties (notably Halifax and Northampton).”

Brooks also requested approval to reclassify the Veterans Service Officer from Grade 8 (current salary of $24,839 annually) to Grade 10 (starting salary at this level is $27,385).

“I do believe that in prior meetings that this position has been identified as having been a bit off for a number of reasons. You asked us to take a look at it and we have done so,” Brooks said.

While the Grade 10 minimum still ranks slightly below what Veterans Service Officers are paid in nearby counties (Bertie starting salary is $29,079; Halifax is $30,223; and Southampton County, VA is $29,000), Brooks said the adjustment will allow Hertford County to move a bit closer in the normal wages offered for this position.

Additionally, Brooks updated the board on the ongoing study of Grade 21 to Grade 23 salaries (the pay ranges from $46,840 to $72,601). She said there are four county employees in this pay range and each are director level positions, all with significant duties and responsibilities.

“We’ve heard from several in this grade range who think their pay level may be off,” Brooks said. “To seriously review their concerns we need to look at this closer to see if it’s out of place. We’ll bring back those results to you.”

At their meeting earlier this month, the commissioners heard a salary study presentation from County Manager Loria Williams and approved an immediate three percent pay hike for 29 local government employees found to be at the minimum of the salary scale.

Also, 187 county workers were deemed below mid-point on the salary scale and given raises as outlined below:

25 percent & over below midpoint are eligible for a 5 percent pay hike;

20-24.99 percent below midpoint (4% raise);

15-19.99 percent below midpoint (3% raise);

5-14.99 percent below midpoint (2% raise); and

0.1-4.99 percent below midpoint (1.5% raise).

The total cost to the county for these raises was estimated at $190,311.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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