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Last updateTue, 04 Nov 2014 9pm

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Supervisors propose one percent raises across the board

Including constitutional employees & registrar
The King George Board of Supervisors held a final of four budget sessions this week on Monday, March 25, and had consensus to provide one percent pay increases across the board to county employees, including those who are under the Constitutional officers and all those in the Registrar’s office.
They had previously been under the impression that three percent state ‘mandated’ raises were required to be applied to the specific positions under the Constitutionals that are state funded. Supervisors had been reluctantly prepared to give only those positions three percent and to give one percent to others in the same offices whose positions were not state-funded.

That decision to go with one percent raises across the board was reached after hearing from county attorney Eric Gregory, who had been tasked to look into the legal requirements of the state’s money coming for raises for 2013-14.

Gregory reported that the allocations for the raises from the state, which represents funding for a certain number of positions at the state’s intended salary rates, can be distributed in the aggregate to provide raises within those offices.

In other words, the funding from the state compensation board is not required to be applied to specific positions, and instead can be used to fund the entire cost of raises within each constitutional’s office, and the same goes for the county registrar and her employees.

That means a uniform one percent pay increase can be provided across the board.

‘FINAL’ PROPOSED BUDGET TO BE UNVEILED APRIL 2
That explanation and decision by the board regarding raises came after Travis Quesenberry, county administrator, had provided his recommended budget.

Those numbers will now be adjusted to address the new salary proposal. The county finance department was directed to provide the new numbers for the proposed 2013-14 budget for the April 2 meeting of the board. At that time, the proposed budget is expected to be authorized for advertisement for a public hearing on April 16.

There will be no change in any tax rates, with additional funding for new costs instead coming from a ‘stabilization fund’ set up a few years ago by the board for emergencies to keep taxes stable. They had previously agreed to about $322,000 being pulled from that fund; now it could be less.

SCHOOL BOARD
Attorney Gregory did not get into the weeds regarding the rules to implement the state’s two percent increases ‘mandated’ only for school board ‘instructional’ employees.

Gregory stated the fact that localities or school boards have the choice to reject the state’s share offered for raises, as many localities are doing, because they can’t afford the local matching funds.

The School Board’s proposed budget amount, which totals more than it is proposed to get, would grant two percent raises across the board. But it remains to be seen whether the funding that is likely to be allocated for 2013-14 will support the cost of those increases, which were last estimated to come to $514,860, when division officials presented those numbers to the county board on March 7.   

The School Board may also have to lower its sights and instead investigate whether the division can take the state funding for raises and go with one percent raises, like the county is proposing for its employees. In that case, there may be some money to put toward ‘fixing’ the top three steps of the teacher salary scale, which is designed to be based on years-of-service. The top three steps do not currently contain two percent increases between the steps, since the salaries were ‘frozen’ for a couple years during the worst of the recession that began in 2008.

COMPLICATED STATE RULES RE RAISES
The rules devised by the state regarding its funding of two percent raises for mandated positions (in the Standards of Quality [SOQ]) appear to have some additional, complicated provisos.

It’s clear that the state funding is provided in the aggregate for SOQ positions, yet there is some question whether the raises must equal two percent of existing division salaries.

The two percent coming from the state for SOQ positions is not based on the division’s actual salaries and same number of instructional positions, but on the state’s minimum salary set for the SOQ positions and the minimum number of positions mandated under the SOQs, which are fewer than the King George division has.

There also appear to be special and complicated rules having to do with differing local ‘matching’ amounts from each locality for schools depending on when raises are implemented, along with the local ‘matching’ share, with a choice of Aug. 1 or Jan. 1, 2013. The later implementation date appears to require a higher local match and could have similar consequences for future years, as well.

Those decisions will have to be made by the King George School Board upon the recommendation of Superintendent Rob Benson. But with the current budget proposal for 2013-14 providing $5.37 million over the required minimum for an average daily attendance of 4,100 students for next year, supervisors are confident that the local funding is high enough to pull down the maximum amount on offer from the state for school division raises.

Phyllis Cook

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