Raises approved for Gates County employees

Published 4:44 pm Tuesday, November 7, 2023

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GATESVILLE – A second round of salary hikes are coming for a portion of Gates County local government employees.

For Fiscal Year 2023-24, which began July 1, all county government employees received a two percent cost of living raise. At that time, the county’s board of commissioners said they would like for that increase to be higher, but were unaware in late June of how the state sales tax numbers would be for April-May-June.

The board agreed to take a look at those numbers in October and possibly make adjustments to the salaries of county employees.

At the board’s meeting on Nov. 1, County Manager Scott Sauer said the county’s annual share of state sales tax was $3,288,063 for FY 2022-23. That number was $353,000 higher than projected. However, the majority of the $353,000 is restricted: $181,330 is required to be applied to debt service, specifically for the Central Middle School renovation project, while another $44,066 will be placed in the school capital reserve fund.

Meanwhile, back in June, Sheriff Ray Campbell requested that the position of Captain within his department remain in the budget, but he opted not to fill that vacancy. Instead, Campbell was approved to use that money to give a $2,769 per person salary increase within his department.

Now, with $127,604 of unrestricted funds from the overage of projected state sales tax receipts, Sauer made his recommendations to the board.

“We’ve come with recommendations to meet some of the targets that the board discussed at the close of the budget process in June,” Sauer said at the Nov. 1 meeting. “I suggest we look at law enforcement positions and at our minimum hourly wage that is not competitive at the regional level, specifically our transit drivers, dispatchers, public maintenance staff, code enforcement staff, and others.”

In law enforcement, Sauer recommended a 16 percent salary increase for all sworn personnel.

“That 16 percent is inclusive of the two percent cost of living increase already given and a flat increase of $2,769 per person,” Sauer noted.

He further recommended to raise the minimum hourly rate to $15 for full and part employees and to address salary compression for long-term staff.

Additionally, Sauer proposed raises for the Sheriff and the county’s Register of Deeds.

“We conducted a 10-county regional salary study for both of Gates County’s constitutional officers – the Register of Deeds and the Sheriff – and have bought forth recommendations to the board that their annual compensation be brought up to that 10-county average,” Sauer said.

All totaled, Sauer said the salary adjustment will affect approximately 50 percent of the county’s employees.

In three separate motions, the commissioners approved, without objection, the following items:

To use not more than 70 percent of the fourth quarter state sales tax receipts of unrestricted funds for the implementation of salary adjustments, including raising the minimum hourly rate for full and part time positions to $15 per hour and to incorporate adjustments to address salary compression for long-term employees. This measure also needs the approval of the county’s Department of Social Services Board.

Aggregate adjustments of a 16 percent increase in base pay of Sheriff’s Office personnel, to include the previously approved two percent cost of living raise and the $2,769 per person flat increase given due to the Sheriff freezing the vacant Captain’s position for the next two years.

Increase the annual compensation of the Sheriff and the Register of Deeds to match the average of those same positions based upon a 10-county regional study.

All of those approved changes are effective for the December pay period.

Additionally, the board approved two more of Sauer’s recommendations.

In Risk Management, Sauer said from a liability insurance standpoint, all county owned vehicles, not including law enforcement, need to have appropriate signage (i.e. county seal, department name) that is visible to the public.

He also suggested to change the day which Gates County local government employees are paid. Currently, county personnel are paid on the last day of the month. Moving forward, that date changes to the 25th of each month, adjusted for weekends and for Thanksgiving and Christmas.

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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