BarCo employees get raise of 3 percent

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Deputies' salaries still supplemented by state fund

Effective Jan. 1 of this year, 60 Barry County employees, with the exception of officeholders, received a 3 percent pay increase.

The raise applied to all full-time, county employees, including secretaries, jailers deputies.

While county employees were happy to receive a raise, deputies will not see boosts on their paychecks, based on the way they are paid.

Deputies' salaries are supplemented by a state deputy fund, which boosts their salary to help provide deputies a better wage.

"When we raise their salary, say, if they are getting a minimum of $23,000 and a maximum of $29,000 a year, if they got a $500 raise, they don't always see the raise, but that's less than we can bill the state for," said Cherry Warren, Barry County presiding commissioner. "It's a criteria. Everyone is treated exactly the same, but if you take someone that was above the level of $28,000, the supplemental fund doesn't make any difference. So, when they get where they're above that minimum level, the supplemental amount doesn't apply."

"It's is set up by using $10 from every civil process paper that comes through our office, and that's how they've accumulated the fund," said Mick Epperly, Barry County sheriff. "It's just a supplement. You have to disclose how many deputies you have to apply for it. I've got 21, and I'll put in for 21 for the fund [every year]. And, if we add one on, we have to advise them of that, too.

"Really, our starting salary is around $23,000 or so, but right now under that fund, makes it $29,000. And, it's something all the sheriffs worked on for five years to get. The raise gives them a 3 percent bump, but they don't see it because they're drawing $29,000 regardless. In some ways it hurts them, but in the long run, it doesn't."

Gary Youngblood, Barry County clerk, said the 3 percent increase amounted to an average of $582.65 per year increase to each employee.

Warren said the raise came as a result of careful money management and funds from the 1/8-cent sales tax.

"We budgeted for it," he said. "We had a reserve left from last year, so we're adding to that reserve this year, and our sales tax has been really good for the last two years. On our general revenue, through February, we were down $2,884, which is $96 down from last year, which is not bad. So, we'll see what the rest of the year holds, but I do think our ag economy could slow down."

Warren said the county is dependent on the sales tax to support various county operations and literally "lives and dies" by revenues collected from the tax.

"Fees from the different offices collected are part of our budget, too," Warren said. "And with the court system, it increases some because the judicial system is pretty busy. The sales tax has been good to us. The 1/8-of-a-cent tax has been quite a boost."

Warren said with revenues generated from the sales tax, the county was able to purchase needed patrol cars for deputies, and hire back deputies who were laid off due to an economic downturn a few years back.

"Until then, we didn't have the money to buy the new cars," he said. "We've already bought four new cars this year. Most of that money has gone toward public safety."

Elected county officials' salaries have not been raised since 2003.

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