Last week we discussed morale with Whitley County employees, but we would be amiss if we didn’t further discuss the pay situation, which has led to frustration with many county employees.
In 2018, there will be 27 pay periods (every other week). In a typical year, county employees receive 26 paychecks per year. This situation is considered an oddity, but happens every 11 years based on how the calendar falls.
As we said last week, communication between County Council and employees could have been better, but we don’t necessarily disagree with the council’s decision.
There has been upset and outrage with employees, but, when considering the facts, many of them are going to make out better in 2018 than in 2017, and none of them will make less money by the end of the year.
The county has 176 salaried employees. Of those 176 employees, 132 will get more money per paycheck in 2018 than in 2017 due to the council’s $1,730 cost-of-living raises. The remaining 44 employees, those who have salaries over $44,000 per year, will see smaller biweekly paychecks but, at the end of the year, they will still come out $1,730 ahead.
When an employee takes a job as a salaried employee, the annual salary is divided among the number of paychecks to be issued that year. Whether paid monthly, bi-monthly, bi-weekly, or in any other interval — that annual salary won’t change. We should note, we state this also with the assumption that being a salaried employee means the employee is working more than 40 hours per week on average and that the pay has less to do with a per hour rate than an annual rate.
The state met with county officials to review its budget, and suggested the county have a $1 million cash balance at the end of 2018. As it stands, the county will be about $200,000-$400,000 short of that goal. The fact that the council gave a raise despite the deficit shows that the council does care about its employees.
In fact, the council is allocating $40,000 more toward wages than the $140,000 it would cost to do a 27th pay. Rather than give the highest-paid employees an entire extra paycheck, employees will receive $1,730, the same amount as the lowest-paid salaried employee. That raise will continue through 2019 and subsequent years.
“This raise is not based on performance, so it should be the same across the board,” Councilman Thor Hodges said at this month’s meeting. “Next year, that money will still be there. Will everyone be in an uproar then?”
Maybe county employees should be grateful for the raises they are receiving, and remember who their employers are — the community they serve.