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Council gives raises amidst cuts

By John Estridge, Editor

Union County Council had some very difficult decisions to make during budget hearings held most of the day Thursday, August 29, at the courthouse.

The members had to cut around $550,000 on paper. The cuts were made easier because $250,000 is a grant and donations the Parks Department received so it could be taken off the top. Union County will act as a conduit for the money and nothing more.

Most full-time employees were given a 30-cents-per-hour increase for full-time employees and 25 cents per hour for part-time employees.

For most full-time employees, that means around $564 per year on the increase.

Dispatchers received a 50-cent-per-hour increase as surrounding counties all pay more than Union County is paying now, and the county cannot keep dispatchers. There are supposed to be five dispatchers, and there were three at the time of the budget hearing. Dispatchers’ increase meant a $2,080 per year increase. Dispatchers work 40 hours per week while courthouse employees work 35 hours per week.

The 911 supervisor received a $3,000 increase in pay.

Union County's sheriff will now make $54,000 per year, which is way below what the position could make by statute. However, the county will now receive money from the tax warrants that is overseen by the sheriff's department. It was a $6,000-per-year increase and brings him in line with what probation officers make.

The first deputy will make $39,000, while the deputies will be eligible for longevity pay.

Highway Department employees will receive the 30-cent-per-hour increase. It was reported to the paper, Highway Department Supervisor Jeff Bowers had asked for a $3,000 increase for himself and $1,000 for his employees. That was not correct, council members said. Instead, it was a $1,000 request for Bowers and the each of the department's employees.

Council members started at 9 a.m. and went line by line through the budget, cutting a small amount here and there and leaving things as is on other lines.

They took an hour off for lunch and started back at 1 p.m. They adjourned for the day at 2:29 p.m.

Members figured in a 13 percent increase for health insurance and are hoping the increase will not be that high.

At the end of the day, council cut $512,886.

“There's a lot of savings in here,” Blank said. “They've given estimates on the money coming in that's not taxes.”

Council will meet at 9 p.m., Thursday, September 19.