Monday, October 24, 2011

Commish to get raises. But not 7.6 percent

Knox County Commission on Monday night gave each member a 7 percent raise in an effort to make sure all county employees received an equal amount of scratch under one commissioner’s proposed pay hike.

Yeah, that almost happened. No kidding.

During Monday’s meeting, commissioners discussed County Mayor Tim Burchett’s proposal to give county workers – they said about 2,200 (but I think it’s closer to 2,300) – a 3 percent across-the-board raise.

Blah, blah, we’ve beaten this to death, I know.

Anyhoo, Commissioner Dave Wright offered a substitute motion/idea: Why not take the $1.5 million or so that would fund the raises (from Jan. 1 through June 30) and divide it equally among the employees. That way, everyone would get the same amount.

He argued that 3 percent for someone making $100k is way more than 3 percent for someone making $34K. OK, that’s true. He figured to just divvy it all up and every two weeks all employees would get an extra $60 in their paycheck.

At the same time, it was announced that commissioners – who make roughly $19k a year - also get the raises under any of the proposals. Now that was freakin’ news to me by the way. (Burchett is on record as saying he will not take a raise under the plan.)

So, take that $60 a week and it amounts – for this current fiscal year – as a 3.8 percent raise for county commissioners.

But next fiscal year? Yeah, if commissioners had gone along with Wright’s plan they would have received an overall 7.6 percent raise.


In the end it was shot down 8-2 with wright and Tony Norman on the losing side. (Amy Broyles missed this part of the meeting because she was at the doctor’s office.)

Afterward I talked to some of the commissioners and asked them if they realized what the raise would have done.

None of them did.

But, I think they were thankful that one didn’t fly.

The commission eventually approved Burchett's proposal. That, too, included the members. Commissioners Jeff Ownby and R. Larry Smith by the way said they wouldn’t take the increases (Ownby joked to me that he hated money, anyway.)

On a side note, I applaud Wright for (cliché alert) thinking outside the box.

The move, however, would have messed up the county’s compensation scale. But, still drinks would have been on Wright if it had passed.


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