Calhoun Commission President Rick Sampson wants a one-time $2,000 pay increase for most of the Calhoun County employees.

Sampson and County Clerk Richard Kirby said "We should not debate the issue," saying the employees are hard-working, devoting efforts beyond their job requirements.

The commission voted 2-1 earlier this year to give the employees a 10% across the board raise. Commissioner Helmick did not vote for the measure, saying he wanted to give the raise in 5% increments.

Sampson introduced the "bonus" motion during September and October's meeting, likely reacting to Assessor Jason Nettle's pay raise of $2,500 to his two employees using funding from a special state fund.

Both times, commissioners Helmick and Weaver failed to second Sampson's motion.

The one-time pay raise, according to Sampson, could be paid with excess funds received by the county coffers, saying it is a reasonable way to reward county employees, that permanent raises could cause the county problems when money becomes short.

That happened about three years ago, when elected officials were forced to lay-off employees because of a budget shortage.

During September's commission meeting Clerk Richard Kirby proposed using excess funds to give his office employees a pay raise.

Weaver said he would like to see some permanent equity created in what elected officials pay their employees, saying employees have historically been underpaid. "There are some pretty big gaps," he said.

"Bonuses never close the inequity," he said.

The commission does not set wages, elected officials do. The commission does budget funds for wages.

Weaver said there are wage and employment issues that need to be decided in drafting the County Employee Handbook, which he says are long overdue.

The handbook draft is expected to be approved by the elected officials and two appointed county employees in November.

Assessor Jason Nettles has created his own employee policies.

Commissioner Helmick said "I want to see pay raises given in a more structured manner. With a long term outlook that will be equally fair for the employee's and the taxpayers."

Helmick said at times the county has many unexpected bills such as rising jail costs, and elected officials have the responsibility to make the budget work under any condition.

Sampson, who has said he has problems over Nettles' actions in taking his own course as an elected official, "Wants to do the right thing for county employees."

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