July 1, 2013

Pay rate increase suggested for county employees

Commissioners bring back longevity pay and increase starting pay rate.

by Mitchell Kirk Pharos-Tribune

---- — Cass County commissioners approved a recommendation to reinstate longevity pay for county employees after a nearly 10-year absence as well as increase base rate pay by $1,000.

Commissioner Ralph Anderson said longevity pay for county employees was eliminated in 2004 because of financial reasons.

“When that was eliminated, that was bad,” said Dave Arnold, president of the commissioners. “We expect county employees to do an excellent job so we have to be fair to the employees.”

In light of this, the commissioners suggested reinstating longevity pay, including a 1.5 percent increase. The commissioners also suggested increasing the base rate salaries for county employees from $19,500 to $20,500.

“We’ve got people who have worked here now since 2005 essentially making the same as someone who just started,” Anderson said.

There was debate among the commissioners over whether a higher percentage than 1.5 percent would be a more adequate increase for longevity. At one point, they discussed going with a higher percentage and leaving base rate pay at $19,500.

Arnold disagreed with this, describing a starting salary of $19,500 as a “slap in the face” and compared it to a poverty-level wage.

Arnold went on to say employee cuts in county departments have led to a need to pay remaining employees more.

“We cut numbers down and expect more out of each individual,” Arnold said. “They need to be rewarded.”

The commissioners voted 3-0 in favor of passing the recommendation to the Cass County Council. The council’s next meeting is July 19.