The Bradley County Commission was split evenly on this decision, with seven in favor of implementing the plan now and seven opposed. The Commission thanked the sheriff for his work on trying to implement the plan and agreed that merit-based pay was a good idea.
Many expressed a desire to implement the step-pay plan, but were worried about funding.
“My concern with this is recurring costs,” 7th District Commissioner Bill Winters said.
First District Commissioners Ed Elkins and Terry Caywood had the same concerns.
Fifth District Commissioner Jeff Yarber said if taxes are raised to give an increase in pay it is not a true raise because the employees have to pay the higher taxes also.
Second District Commissioner Connie Wilson pointed out that even with the requests for the merit-based pay plan, the sheriff’s budget for this fiscal year would not exceed his 2009 fiscal year budget. The sheriff’s budget appeal would have partially covered the first phase of the pay plan. Wilson also said a merit-based plan would save money in the long run by helping the Sheriff’s Office retain employees.
A few commissioners mentioned they had received calls from other department heads expressing that their employees are also underpaid.
“This has been one of the hardest things. I think I’ve had more calls on this than on anything, I believe, since I’ve been a commissioner,” Yarber said.
Seventh District Commissioner Mark Hall made a substitute motion to research implementing a merit-based pay system for all county employees.
Elkins said a committee had been formed to do this in the past and ran into problems when other counties who did not want to share data.
Fourth District Commissioner J. Adam Lowe suggested the sheriff’s plan would make a good pilot program to study merit-based pay in the county.
Hall later withdrew his motion, allowing the Commission to make a final decision on the sheriff’s plan.
n The budget appeal for the Bradley County Election Commission was passed by the Commission during Tuesday’s meeting. The Election Commission had appealed the budget after the finance committee changed it to keep the department from making a part-time employee full-time. Implementing the switch to full-time would require an increase of $15,683 in the budget.
n A motion to consider redistributing the proposed 1.6 percent pay raises for county employees by giving more to those who made less had been officially removed from the agenda before the meeting. Also during the meeting, a motion to further delay approving the budget to give more time to consider long-term capital project needs for Bradley County Schools was not passed.