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County employees get 2 percent pay raises

The King George Board of Supervisors unanimously voted on Jan. 3 to implement 2 percent raises effective with the first pay period this month. The last time county employees received a pay hike was four years ago, in January 2008.  
That’s because raises that had been budgeted for 2008-09 to go into effect in January 2009 were cancelled in December 2008 in the face of budget deficits being experienced due to the beginnings of the sliding economy.
Like most other localities across the state at that time, King George had made cuts and postponed expenditures due

to lower revenues. At that time, deputy county administrator/director of finance Donita Harper told Supervisors she had projected a year-end deficit of $1.4 million for June 30, 2009, with revenue collections down in all areas, in addition to state funding.

Supervisors implemented a number of measures to cut spending for the remainder of that year to avoid overexpenditure, many of them becoming the ‘new normal.’

Because of that, the county’s economy is looking relatively stable, for the time being, at least.

REVENUES STABLE, EXPENDITURES DOWN
Harper told supervisors last week that revenues for the current fiscal year were roughly 3 percent lower at the end of December than the same time last year, at about $388,000 less. But she also said that expenditures are 6 percent lower than the same time last year, at about $1.4 million less.

The 2 percent county raises are expected to cost $106,496 and are included in the current budget. Action was taken after a careful review of funds available, since a budget is a guideline and must relate to available revenues.  
Supervisors also had to contend with another issue that required transferring funds from the county’s general fund.

27th PAYROLL FOR 2011-12
Supervisors took action to address an anomaly that only takes place every eleven years and only for governments and businesses that pay employees on a bi-weekly basis.

It’s called ‘calendar creep.’ A normal bi-weekly pay year consists of 26 pay periods, because there are 52 weeks. But Harper provided information noting there is a difference between a calendar year, fiscal year and payroll year, with only 364 days in a payroll year, instead of 365 or 366 in a calendar year. Those remaining days, including the additional days for leap years, add up to an additional pay period every eleven years and need to be accounted for in a payroll calendar.

Employees paid on a bi-weekly basis will actually work 27 pay periods in the current fiscal year, which runs from July 1 through June 30. But the county’s payroll system is based on an annual salary, not per pay period. The payroll system is programmed to automatically divide total salaries by 26 for the standard 26 pay periods. The payroll department noticed the anomaly for the current fiscal year.
The anomaly results in an additional cost. Supervisors approved a transfer of $373,000 to the county and $43,000 to the Service Authority from the county’s undesignated general fund to address the 27th pay period anomaly. (More about ‘calendar creep’ can be found online at the county’s website, www.king-george.va.us, in the Jan. 3 meeting packet for the Board of Supervisors.)

SCHOOL BOARD EMPLOYEES
School Board employees are not affected by the calendar creep anomaly because they are paid once per month.
But after approving the 2 percent raises for county employees, Chairman Cedell Brooks inquired if the action also included school employees. County administrator Travis Quesenberry said it did not, adding that the School Board needed to take action if it is to go into effect.
He also noted that while 2 percent raises are contained in the School Board budget, there is an anticipation that because of lower enrollment, the division is likewise looking at lower state revenue.
Quesenberry stated, “They are going to be short anywhere from $500,000 to $600,000 because of lower number of students.”

The School Board is an elected body that must monitor and execute its own budget.
Former superintendent Candace Brown repeatedly remarked on the revenue shortfall prior to her retirement a couple weeks ago, at the end of December. It may be presumed that she made cuts in the budget prior to leaving.
But the new School Board is expected to scrutinize its budget numbers at a meeting this week, hopefully to determine if a raise can be provided without overspending the revenues available.

Phyllis Cook

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