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Posted March 28, 2012 | comments 1 Comment

Employee pay freeze could come to end

By Joe Beck -- jbeck@nvdaily.com

FRONT ROYAL -- The Board of Supervisors appeared poised at a special budget meeting Tuesday to end the pay freeze imposed on employees for more than three years.

No formal actions were taken but presentations from several county and school officials left most of the supervisors leaning toward a 2 percent pay increase that would take effect on Jan. 1.

The proposed raise would add $246,924 to county expenditures which, when added to the 2 percent pay raise approved last week by the school board for school system employees, would bring the total amount for pay raises to $939,692.

The county pay raise is structured to follow recommendations made by Springsted, Inc. in a compensation study initiated in 2008. The study compared pay rates for Warren County with other counties and found pay rates for some positions lagging.

The pay proposal would be structured in a way that allows some employees to receive more of the extra $246,924 than others. The biggest share of the increase would go to employees with more than three years of service with the county -- the majority of the workforce. They would receive increases of 2 1/2 percent each -- the equivalent of a one-step increase.

Some of those with less than three years experience would be eligible for pay increases, but the amount would depend on whether they hold a job recommended for a pay increase under the Springsted compensation study.

Those who have worked for the county for less than three years at pay deemed to meet or exceed the minimum found for comparable positions in competing counties would receive no pay increase.

In addition to the pay increase, the county is also considering a bonus of 1 to 3 percent, depending on an employee's years of experience with the county. The bonus, if approved, would most likely be paid in October.

Funding for any bonus would be taken from the county health's insurance fund, which is made up of savings built from employee health and dental premiums that exceed the amount of actual claims paid.

The pay increases would take effect on Jan. 1, thereby saving the county the cost of a pay increase for the entire fiscal year, which begins July 1.

Jodi Spittler, the county's human resources manager, called the increases "a really good start" toward making up for the effects of the pay freeze that began Jan. 1, 2009.
"At least you're giving something to everybody who has been with us for at least three years," said Carolyn Stimmel, director of finance and purchasing.

County administrator Douglas P. Stanley said the increases would be paid for mainly by tapping the county's $12.5 million fund balance. He said he would normally hesitate to draw down the fund, but felt the move can be justified in anticipation of additional revenue next year from construction of the Dominion natural gas fired power plant.

"I think we're OK here, based on what Doug is saying," Supervisor Richard Traczyk said of the possible use of the fund balance.

"We would give our employees a raise, but would still be able to replenish the fund balance when Dominion comes online," said Board Chairman Archie Fox.

The supervisors agreed earlier in the meeting to a timetable for adopting the budget that calls for a public hearing on April 17 and approval April 24.

Stanley said some uncertainly lingers over the effect of deliberations in Richmond where the Senate and House have each approved budgets. Those budgets will now be combined into a single bill produced by a conference committee made up of members from both chambers.

Stanley said the pace of state budget deliberations make it likely that the county will have to wait until next week to advertise its budget.

1 Comment | Leave a comment

    There was a fleeting moment of sheer joy when I began to read this, until it settled on me that it was meant for county employees, whom I wholeheartedly agree and am happy for; that will perhaps see pay increases....I am left with only one thought....Front Royal Town Council PLEASE get on board with this?

    Your town employees have been as faithful and giving as county employees....what the county may do sounds absolutely wonderful....can you please also do for the Town Employees??????

    One little bit of giving makes an employee feel appreciated and validated...and more loyal and dedicated to his/her job....the time is now!

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