County amends budget, gives employees 3 percent raise

Published 8:57 pm Thursday, December 21, 2017

Generally, December is considered the end of the year, but because of the way government finance work, major changes to Troup County’s budget enacted on Tuesday are considered mid-year changes.

The Troup County Board of Commissioners approved $338,500 worth of mid-year budget amendments for the county’s 2017-2018 fiscal year. The amendments were all for items discussed in May, and the commissioners agreed to review the items again in December once the impact of the closure of the Troup County Correctional Institute and Work Release was known.

The largest change to the budget was the approval of a 3 percent raise for employees still making below the amount recommended by the county pay study that was completed earlier this year. According to County Manager Tod Tentler, this raise will bring employee pay to the levels shown in the pay study and will cost an additional $300,000.

“The basic gist of this is we are funding the pay study at 100 percent of what was (recommended),” Commissioner Lewis Davis said.

The commissioners voted to approve funding for 97 percent of the amount at the beginning of the fiscal year, and they said that they felt good knowing that they were finally able to follow through on their commitment to bring employee pay up to the levels recommended by the pay study.

“We made a promise that we would look at this, after we did (funding for) 97 percent of the pay study, we would look at it mid-year,” Commissioner Ellis Cadenhead said. “I want them to understand that we’ve done everything that we can to make sure that we did what we needed (to do).”

The county was able to afford the raises through a series of cost cutting measures including closing the county correctional institute to ensure that the raises did not require any additional funding from citizens.

“I’m proud that we were able to do it without raising property taxes,” Davis said.

Tentler said that employees would receive an e-mail on the raises later that day, and county department heads learned about the details of the change on Wednesday.

The county also approved $8,500 of the $9,611 request for the Agricultural Extension Service. The funding is expected to cover the one-time purchase of materials for a shooting sports club and salary for a part time 4-H assistant.

“Currently in nine schools, we have almost 600 kids that we are working with, and that is a real load on one person with our 4-H agent,” County Extension Agent Brian Maddy said, during discussion last week. “… We need a program assistant.”

Of that amount, $5,111 will go toward the new employee salary for the remainder of this financial year. 4-H was commended for the work it does currently, and Cadenhead expressed a desire to see the program grow in the future.

The local library system had requested an additional $60,000 in funding, but after some discussion during last week’s work session, the board of commissioners voted to provide $10,000 of funding to local libraries. Both the LaGrange and Hogansville libraries are partially funded by the state, but they also require funding from local government.

“The state has X amount of dollars that they give to each library in the district, and it’s been shrinking the last 5 years, since 2008 actually,” Tentler said.

Representatives over the LaGrange and Hogansville libraries stated in June that additional funding was needed to cover the cost of the heating and air conditioning unit at the LaGrange Memorial Library, which is old and may need to be replaced, and the additional cost of operating a much larger library in Hogansville.

Finally, the commission approved $20,000 for raises for the Troup County Public Defender’s department. The department originally asked for $131,382 in order to make it possible to provide raises and hire an additional attorney.

“After reviewing that and hearing discussion especially during the work session, I’d like to see $20,000 put aside specifically for the attorneys here in Troup County,” Cadenhead said.

The public defender brought up concerns of retaining attorneys in the office due to pay that is lower than other comparable positions, combined with heavy workloads. The department was not covered in the pay study and was not subject to the same raises as other departments because of its partnership with the state.

The changes to the county budget were unanimously approved by the board of commissioners.

The Troup County Board of Commissioners is scheduled to meet again on Tuesday, Jan. 2 at 9 a.m. at 100 Ridley Avenue.