Guilford raises? Maybe
County officials are still awaiting the results of a pay equity survey that could figure into employee raises next year.
Many of the proposed department budgets commissioners have seen include amounts for merit raises.
“We may have to put a pot of money out there for raises,” Budget Director Michael Halford told the Board of Commissioners last week. “We do not know the equity amount for now. We estimate $1 million. It could be more.”
Commissioners approved the survey after awarding late last year pay adjustments to 15 top administrators either hired by commissioners, elected by voters, or who report to the county manager or independent boards.
Other rank-and-file employees received a $250 bonus. The largest director increase, $14,222, went to Department of Social Services Director Robert Williams, whose salary was increased to $140,000 a year.
The adjustments were necessary to comply with federal pay equity laws which protect women, minorities and seniors, according to county officials.
“Legally, we have to address the equity,” said Sharisse Fuller, assistant county manager. “So far, we have an unknown number for now.”
In an equity review, experts examine salaries to see how they compare with comparable jobs within and outside county government. Legal problems can arise, for example, if a new employee, hired at a market-rate salary, earns more than a veteran worker at the same job.
“You have to show a plan that addresses the issue as soon as possible,” said County Attorney Mark Payne.
The options can be complicated. Options discussed so far include a merit raise for all who qualify and a lump sum bonus. Each percentage of a merit raise would cost the county $1 million a year, according to the latest estimates. A budget committee also has discussed special attention for workers earning less that $50,000 a year.
“We had two wrongs in this,” said Democratic Commissioner Carolyn Coleman. “There were no raises for them and no equity. We forced them to take less money.”
Former Elections Director George Gilbert did not think his adjustment was enough and sued the county for more money before he retired earlier this year.
Several commissioners want to see detailed numbers to determine the costs for tier raises and also providing a match for employee 401-K savings plans. Each 1 percent of a 401-K contribution would cost the county $790,000 a year, according to estimates. All county employees contribute 6 percent of pay to a pension plan.
Contractor: Guilford County hired Evergreen Solutions of Tallahassee, Fla. for $34,000 to review salaries for all 2,300 county employees.
Raises: The county manager’s proposed budget will be presented to the Board of Commissioners on May 16. Commissioners have until July 1 to adopt a final budget.