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Council approves pay hike

AHOSKIE – There’ll be good news for Ahoskie town employees with their next paychecks: a two-percent pay increase; the first by the town in nearly three years.

Appropriation for the increase, roughly $15,000, will cover the remaining period of the 2018-19 town budget (mid-April to June 30).

Funds had already been approved, but a budget amendment by Council was necessary to execute the transfer.

In addition, the Management and Personnel Services (MAPS) Group, a human resources consulting firm based in Cary, will do a salary study for the town to be completed before the fall of the year.

“The (Town Council) indicated you wanted to do a salary study because we haven’t given our employees any raises in almost three years now,” said Town Manager Kerry McDuffie at Tuesday’s Council meeting. “We’ve contacted the MAPS Group, who did our last salary study, and probably the foremost experts for doing these at the municipal phase.”

McDuffie said the MAPS Group will begin the process sometime in May and have it completed for Council sometime in August so that it can hopefully be implemented in September or October.

“That’s a little more delay than I would like,” the Town Manager acknowledged.

McDuffie then proposed a recommendation of no less than a two percent pay increase, effective with the town’s next pay period which began on April 13.

“That will cost us about $15,000 this budget year,” he noted. “And if we do this two percent that will still leave us with the ability to have money to fund a portion of the results of the salary study starting October 1st.”

McDuffie praised the town’s employees for their hard work and their positive attitude.

“Our employees have been very diligent,” he stated, “And not working with an increase for this long does deserve something in their pay.”

During the Council’s discussion period, Councilman Charles Reynolds inquired as to the source of the funding for the increase.

McDuffie answered that while one of his aims for the current fiscal year had been to completely eliminate the debt of the fire truck the town purchased in 2011; since that could not be accomplished, the Town Manager desired to apply a portion of that to the salary increase.

When McDuffie came aboard, $249,000 was owed on the USDA loan. That amount, due to on-time payments, has been reduced down now to about $221,000 dollars still owed on the original loan.

“I really wanted to get that truck paid off this year,” he declared.

In further Council inquiries, McDuffie re-iterated that the $15,000 for the pay raise, already budgeted for 2018-19, will cover the final two-and-a-half months of the current fiscal year’s budget with more appropriation forthcoming to cover the raise when Council considers the town’s 2019-20 budget.

Reynolds then made a motion to approve the budget amendment covering the raise, seconded by Councilwoman Jamie Burns. It was approved unanimously.