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County council makes cuts and compromises

By Elisabeth Dodd, Staff Writer

County Council was able to make the cuts they needed during the budget workshop on Thursday, Sept. 6.

The all-day affair had the council members sifting through budget proposals and trimming the fat over all the departments to reach their goal of cutting $400,000.

Money was cut from the personnel budget for the Sheriff station, as the request for one more roadside Deputy and two more jailors to be up to the state's code was denied.

Despite cuts, council members were able to approve the morale-boosting raises that nearly every department asked for. All full-time courthouse employees and Highway Department employees were granted a $1,000 raise and part time employees were given $500.

A hot topic debate was longevity pay for the Sheriff's department employees. Sheriff Dale Dishmond is entitled to $74,000 a year by state statute, but Dishmond is opting to take his salary at only 75 percent to offer the rest of it to his deputies in the form of longevity pay.

The $26,000 difference would be divided up based on length of service and merit. This would be determined by two in-depth reviews conducted in March and October. Starting deputies would not be eligible, and all raises would be effective on Jan. 1, 2019.

Raises would be $500 the first year increasing at regular increments over a four-year time period culminating in a raise of $6,000.

However, as county auditor Gene Sanford put it, “If one department gets longevity pay, the others have a right to get it and have longevity pay for everyone.”

A compromise was reached passing the longevity pay for the Sheriff's department at half what was requested.