During its Feb. 26 regular meeting, the commission approved Resolution 2006-510 provided by the state. Under the agreement, county retirees will not seek another cost of living raise for three years. Their increase amounts to 2.3 percent per year over that time period.
The commission made the increase retroactive to October 2006. Cherokee County Administrator Tim Burgess said the raise will cost the county approximately $35,000 per year.
Initially, county retirees approached the commission about the raise this past fall. At that time, commissioners voted to table any action on the matter until the first of the year when they could get a better idea of the state of the countys finances. In January, the commission tabled the matter until February.
The county faced an all or nothing option. They could have given the 7 percent raise or nothing at all.
During the work session prior to the meeting, Fayne Lindsey, former Cherokee County engineer, urged the commission to approve the raise. At one time, Lindsey said, if the county skipped a year giving the raise, the county was required to make up for that amount the next year.
Commissioner Carlton Teague made the motion to approve the raise. Commission Chairman Melvyn Salter, Commissioners Elbert St. Clair and Kimball Parker approved the raise and Commissioner Lori Owens abstained from the vote.
I have been on the commission for two years, said Owens. And during that time period, I have been made aware that there are inequities in salaries for current employees and it is not just in one particular department. It is in several departments. I have made a commitment to try to address those issues. I cant do it by myself. So on principal, Im going to abstain because I believe that the inequities of the salaries of the current employees need to be addressed. And I realize that when a lot of our retirees were working, there were inequities and I am sorry about that. So that is the basis for my abstention.
I agree with Commissioner Owens, said Parker. There are a lot of inequities in our pay scale and I would like to address that as well. And I know the previous commissioners should have done this a long time ago. I agree, we need to look at the pay scale of our employees to get them where they need to be and I dont have a problem working with Commissioner Owens in getting that pay scale where that needs to be too.
I know theres a lot of folks out there who do the best job and provide the best service they can for our county, said Teague. We need to look at ways and try to figure out the best plan for our employees to try to help them have a good life and a comfortable retirement too. We owe something to our retirees also. They helped make the county what it is today. And I appreciate that. Along with what Commissioner Owens said, I agree we really need to address our current employees.
The commission also made more board appointments. The commission re-appointed Beverly Daniel and Johnny Roberts to the E911 Board through 2001; appointed Marilyn Williams to the Cherokee County Library Board through 2010 to fill a vacancy left by Martha Burkhalter who resigned and Wayne Clanton to Northeast Water and Sewer Board through 2011.
In other business, the commission:
-Approved hiring Joan Cothran for the human resources/payroll accounting position at a rate of $14.45 per hour. Cothran will fill a position being vacated by Mary Gardner, who is retiring at the end of March.
-Approved paying $7,044.20 for a 2006 Goshen Pacer LD15 passenger community van from the Alabama Department of Transportation Bureau to be used by the Cherokee County Nutrition Center.
The total cost of the vehicle, Salter explained, is $35,221 and the countys match is $7,044.20. They do a wonderful job and that is a very needed piece of equipment, said Salter.
-Approved excess land redemption to Jerry Finley for $912.30.
-Approved two automatic doors for the Cherokee County Administration Building from Automated Doors, Inc. for $3,600 and allow chairman to sign off on this proposal. Cherokee County Administrator Tim Burgess said this will include one door for the back of the building and another door from the front of the building and they will both be wheelchair-accessible. The commission agreed to consider adding more handicapped parking spaces to the administrative building parking lot