The county commissioners will have a series of budget choices to make at their meeting Tuesday, including deciding whether to give a cost-of-living-adjustment raise to all county employees besides elected officials.
“In the past, the employees have been the last ones we’ve taken care of,” commission chair Joe Tilden said. “It became very apparent that we’re not treating employees fairly, we’re not keeping up with what they could make in the private sector.”
Tilden said he would support such a move but knows other commissioners may be against it. Commissioners Jake Fulkerson and Lee Livingston both said they are undecided how they will vote on it.
The last time the county approved a COLA was in July 2018, when a 5% raise was granted to the county’s workforce.
Elected officials have had their share of pay increases over the past decade as well. Raises were granted to these positions in 2011, 2015 and 2018, excluding the commissioners who have had the same rate since 2014.
Since 2011, there has been a $94,759 total increase in annual wages for the county’s six other elected officials.
Tilden admitted initiating a COLA could hurt the chances of a general purpose fifth penny tax getting passed this fall, but finds it necessary to compensate for possible labor cuts in the near future.
“There’s going to be some bleak times coming up. We’re going to be asking them to do ... a lot more work,” Tilden said.
Also on the docket for Tuesday will be the county’s budget, to which Tilden said it is looking like there will be a $1.9-$2.2 million cash carryover from this last year, essentially making the county’s budget concerns discussed the entire past year a moot point in the short term.
But in the long term, Fulkerson and Tilden both said a tax is needed in order to sustain the status quo for county services.
“It’s up to the taxpayers if they want to tax themselves to have that,” Tilden said.
The commissioners will be also looking at a series of possible buildings and grounds special projects and employee merit raise requests on Tuesday that could affect the budget picture.
Tuesday’s meeting will start at 8:15 a.m. with the employee compensation aspect scheduled to come up at 10:15 a.m. To view live, go to parkcounty.us/commissioners/meetingminutes.html.