At least 63 county employees received more than the 3 percent “across-the-board” pay raise approved 4 to 1 by the Madison Fiscal Court during its June 30 meeting.

The actual raises ranged from 0 to 25 percent, according to a list of salaries and hourly rates provided by the county judge/executive’s office in an open records request.

Magistrates Bill Tudor, Harold Botner Jr., Larry Combs and Madison Judge/Executive Kent Clark voted in favor of the 2009-10 fiscal year budget that included salaries for all county employees.

The only “No” vote came from Magistrate Roger Barger.

“That’s the main reason I voted against the budget, because the pay raises are lumped into the entire budget and I had concerns about this weeks before (the court voted on the budget),” Barger said.

Barger had a discussion with Clark before the court voted on the budget, and added that fellow magistrates were aware of the fluctuation in raise percentages “... because I told them,” he said.

“My discussion with the judge was that the raises were not fair across the board,” he said.

Clark told Barger that he had assured certain employees that their pay would be brought up to a certain level, Barger said.

“I don’t think that’s right,” he said.

Barger wanted to discuss the pay raises during the June 30 open meeting.

“The judge cut me off and wouldn’t let me discuss it,” he said.

During the June 30 meeting, Clark said all county employees would receive 3 percent raises, “across the board.”

On Tuesday, Clark said perhaps he could have worded things differently “to make things clearer.”

The county’s Information Technology specialist received a 25 percent boost in pay, but Clark pointed out that this person’s salary is partly paid by the City of Berea and Emergency Management Services, which both give $10,000 each to go toward the salary because he provides services for them as well, he said.

The golf pro (golf course manager) received a 6.3 percent increase in pay.

“Our golf pro has brought the golf course, in almost three years, to almost paying for itself,” Clark said. “The golf pro has increased revenue and membership, and is doing a wonderful job.”

Clark said the county planning director, who received a 7.1 percent raise, deserves the raise because he is completing the county’s comprehensive plan at no charge, which actually will save the county $90,000.

Two of the county’s heavy equipment operators also received a huge boost in pay. One received a 20 percent raise and the other got 13.3.

Two seasonal laborers got 14 percent raises, and the road supervisor received a $5,000 increase, which was a 8.5 percent hike. An animal control officer got an 8 percent raise.

For a full list of those receiving more than 3 percent in pay increase, see accompanying chart on Page A1.

“All our employees are special, but we have some supervisors who go above and beyond what’s required of them,” Clark said. “I’m trying to get them equal (in annual pay) to other people with other jobs with similar duties. We have some very, very special people working for us and sometimes you have to give them a little bit more, and I think everybody understands that. There’s a level that I’m trying to get them to.”

Clark said the fiscal court was aware of the raises prior to voting on the budget.

“They’re voting on a budget and those salaries are in the budget and they’re aware of what everybody’s getting,” Clark said. “We’re not hiding anything.”

Other factors that went into determining raises for county employees included the consideration of those who remain on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and those employees who work 60 to 80 hours a week with no overtime, Clark said.

As for the county jail, one cook only received a 2 percent raise. However, Clark pointed out that Madison Jailer Ron Devere has the authority to set raises as he deems appropriate.

“Ronnie runs his jail,” Clark said. “He has the authority to do that.”

Magistrate Harold K. Botner Jr. said he was aware, prior to voting on the 2009-10 fiscal year budget, that the department heads were going to get more than a 3 percent raise.

But that fact was not mentioned in the open meeting.

“As far as the regular hourly people, I don’t know exactly how that worked out,” he said. “Some of them got a little more because the people who had been there a few years were going to make as much as people who had been there 10 years. I understood what was going on. I wasn’t blind-sighted on it.”

This especially was the case for the county fire department, he said.

The minimum wage hike this year, which was a 70-cent raise, put firefighters who only had six months experience making close to or equal to 10-year veteran firefighters, he said.

Clark already had explained to Botner that all county department heads should be making about $75,000, Botner said.

As for the remaining county employees: “I knew most of them were (receiving) 3 percent, but there were some exceptions,” he said.

Botner admitted that the wording used in the June 30 meeting “... could have been re-worded,” he said.

“We have exceptional employees who don’t make enough,” Botner said. “I was worried that they weren’t going to get a raise.”

Attempts were made to contact Tudor and Combs, but phone calls had not been returned as of press time Tuesday.

(Editor’s note: This story does not include the 2009-10 fiscal year budget or salaries for the Madison County Sheriff’s Department.)

Ronica Shannon can be reached at rshannon@richmondregister.com or 624-6608.

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