County Looks at JESAP
Wednesday evening, the Finance Committee met again to look at the 2018 Job Evaluation and Salary Administration Program (JESAP) report, which provides the payscale.
Chairman Michael White brought a list of 15 employees on the JESAP list that were below minimum or in the first quartile. White said to be able to move the 15 employees up in to the second quartile on an annual basis would cost a total of $18,571. The second quartile is 10 percent away from midpoint.
“The reason for our gathering here today, everybody knows we have been promising the county employees that at the middle of the year we will turn around and look at JESAP and salary schedules and see where everybody was at and see what kind of adjustments we could make to get some of these guys off of the very bottom,” White explained. “Truly, we have had some on the bottom. We are so much better than we have been.”
The highest adjustment for an employee to be in the second quartile was $4,571; whereas, the lowest was only $19.
The three employees that are in the below minimum category work in the Senior Citizens Center. In the first quartile, three employees work in senior center, two in the Sheriff’s Department, three in the Assessor’s Office, two in the 911 office and the Veterans Service Officer.
One at the Senior Citizens Center is in the below minimum category, and she is slated for the adjustment of $4,571. However, she is also splitting jobs with another person who isn’t on the list, so the committee moved to wait on the raise until looking at the budget for 2020. Another county employee who works at the Sheriff’s Department would cost the county $375 to be moved into the second quartile; however, he would lose benefits if paid more than a certain salary. Therefore, he was removed from the list and will be looked at during the 2020 budgeting process.
White stated in September, when the Finance Committee looks at creating the 2020 budget, he hopes they can consider doing another raise.
“I hope that we are able to consider another raise of some sort — be it cost of living two to four percent or across the board $1,000 or whatever we feel like we can afford,” White said. “But I’d like for us to be able to consider full county-wide employee raises again for the 2020 budget.”
White said that Justice Rick Ash, who wasn’t present, would like to move everyone up to midpoint. The total cost of that would be $288,000.
White said he believes that if the Quorum Court did that then they would not be able to give raises in 2020.
White added that Mississippi County pays 100 percent of employee benefits. According to White, the county is one of the few counties or entities in the state that pays for employee benefits.
Later in the meeting, County Assessor Harley Bradley said three of his employees quit in the last few years. He added that his office and County Collector Susan McCormick’s office is different than the other elected officials because 80 percent of their budget comes from the school.
Justice Neil Burge interrupted Bradley and asked when the last time someone had quit in his office.
“I have. I’ve had three of them,” Bradley responded.
Both White and Burge asked, “When?”
Bradley said, “In the last two years.”
“In the last two years,” Burge said. “ You’ve had three people quit because they didn’t get paid.”
Bradley responded, “Not the pay, I don’t know if that was the reason. But most of them went to a better job.”
“I’m getting tired. I’ll be honest about it. I’m getting tired of hearing about all of your problems in your office,” said Burge. “We are trying to do what is best for the county and you have been complaining ever since I came in here for four years and I’m a little tired of it.”
Bradley countered, “I’m tired of hearing y’all promising things and not doing it.”
“Well, don’t run for the job anymore,” Burge added.
“I won’t; this will be my last term,” Bradley said.
Burge responded, “Good.”
“Y’all won’t have to listen to me anymore,” Bradley explained.
Burge looked at White and asked him to “move on.”
White sighed and added, “We are doing the best we can. If you look at what we have given every employee...”
Bradley interrupted, “ Oh, I think y’all have done great, don’t think I don’t. I’m not cutting you down on what you have done in the past. The last couple of years y’all have done great.”
After the discussion ended Justice JoAnne Henton said that she believes White’s option is “more feasible” than Ash’s.
“I think, again my opinion. This gives us an option to help everybody in the long run, because if we did, and not knocking Justice Ash’s opinion I just humbly disagree,” White said. “If we gave $288,000 now then left approximately 40 employees out. We are not going to be able to consider additional raises very much at all in next year’s budget. So, those 40 people will go a year without a raise. Whereas here we are getting the bottom ones up and then we give everybody a raise and we are doing it at not a big expense to the county.”
Justice Molly Jackson said she agrees with White’s option as well.
Later in the meeting White stated they didn’t need a decision today, he just wanted to make the court aware of it.
Justice Bill Nelson said he wanted to make a decision today.
White said that’s fine, but they aren’t obligated.
Jackson suggested leaving the salaries alone of the two aforementioned Senior Citizens Center and Sheriff’s Department employees until the budget process.
Burge agreed to deal with the rest now and then see later on about the other two employees.
White said that he really values County Judge John Alan Nelson’s opinion since he was Finance chairman when he served on the Quorum Court.
County Judge Nelson added, “I thought (White) had a very good idea and I’ll say this it is the utmost important that we keep our financial position the same as we did last year and not jeopardize that because you and I both know what happens when that is compromised because it effects the employees and everything else. So I think we should hold that in the highest regard. But I certainly think your idea is a step that we have never made in the last 15 years.”
Burge made the motion to make adjustments with the exception of the two discussed earlier. Financial Director Kelli Jones said if the full court accepts it next Tuesday it would go into effect for the July 29 paycheck.
Justice Nelson seconded the motion made by Burge.
“ I want to tell you just like Judge Nelson said. We have never been able to be here to where we can get every employee into at least the second quartile, at least,” White explained.
The full court will vote on moving people out of the below minimum and first quartile in Tuesday night’s QC meeting.