Monday, October 8, 2012

Left over notes on salary survey

(Update at the bottom)

Dumping notebook here from Friday's story about a proposal to conduct a salary survey of county employees (which could eventually lead to pay increases).

The survey will probably happen. The raises? Way to early to say. The discussions really won't take place until next spring. Still . . . .

Here's some thoughts from Knox County officials:

County Commission Chairman Tony Norman: “I'd be open to the conversation but I don't know much about the process (of conducting the survey) right now. There are a lot of questions, particularly about the expense. It's one of those things were all the parties need to sit down and talk about what it is and what it means and what is it going to cost. Is there some reason to put a whole lot of effort into something like this right now, given where we are financially?”

Commission Vice Chairman Arrgghhh Larry Smith: “I'm not aware (of the potential discussion). It would be fine for me to know where we are compared to others in our economic region, but I think this is something we need to discuss during budget time and make the adjustment then.”

County Finance Director Casual Chris Caldwell: “If the survey shows that we're 10 percent under market, can we correct that overnight? Absolutely not. We know the fiscal restraints that we are in and if the restraints are that there is no money, well, then there is no money. Maybe it's something you could fix over several years. But right now it's not really something we can address until we do a survey.”

County Mayor Tim Motorcycle Burchett: “I'm not scared of the results – I welcome them. But I don't know what the commissioners' attitudes are going to be if the survey comes back and it says our directors and managers are underpaid and our other employees are overpaid. What then? Does it work both ways? I can't see them leading the charge to pay our managers more money.”

The plan would be to survey the county's general employees and the folks out of the sheriff's office. That's about 2,000 people, and the combined payrolls annually total about $84.8 million, which represents about 36.7 percent of the county's overall budget, once you take out the spending for schools.

I asked some folks whether they should survey the school system. I was met with more than a few blank stares and then overall chuckles before they exploded into great laughter. The general consensus is that teachers are underpaid and pretty much everyone else there is overpaid. They figured it wasn't worth pointing out the obvious. Heh.

Update: Knox County Board of Education member Indya Kincannon took issue that "everyone but teachers in KCS is overpaid."

"Not true," she said in a note to me. "Most are at or below market if you compare with to people with similar responsibilities. Principals for example, but also, gasp, those ne'er do well Central Office Administrators."

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