Brooks calls for county-worker raises


Garthia Elena Burnett



Looking to the city of Columbus as an example, Lowndes County Supervisor Leroy Brooks wants to guarantee county employees raises for the coming fiscal year. 


The city recently passed a $22.86 million budget, including 3-percent raises for its about 280 employees.  


"Our employees really have not had a raise during this administration," said Brooks, supervisor for District 5. 


Though he has heard the city''s financial situation is not as sound as the county''s, "they were able to give 3 percent. I think that should serve as a catalyst," Brooks said, proposing the county offer its about 350 employees 4-percent raises. 


"They haven''t had (a raise) in a number of years and probably won''t for the next several years," he added. 


The raise would mean an increase to payroll of about $400,000, Brooks said, noting the county can cut in other places to compensate for the increase. 


"I think the essence of any functioning bodies is its employees," Brooks said. "I think it would be a great gesture to all our employees to (give them raises.)" 


Board President and District 1 Supervisor Harry Sanders agreed that county employees deserve raises. He also noted each member of the board already has expressed a desire to offer county employees raises. However, he also said he does not agree with across-the-board raises based on percentages. And he wants to wait until a working budget is prepared before voting on raises. 


"We shouldn''t force (the county administrator and financial officer) to do anything without knowing what our financial situation is," Sanders said. 


"Ultimately, the responsibility rests with us as a board. ... It is our prerogative to give our employees a raise. ... The decision rests with us," Brooks responded. 


Though District 4 Supervisor Jeff Smith seconded Brooks'' motion for 4-percent raises for discussion''s sake, the board voted the pay raises down 4-1, with the promise to consider raises once a working budget is ready for review. 


Earlier this summer, Smith also encouraged his fellow supervisors to consider pay raises for the coming fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1. (A budget must be passed by Sept. 15.) 


Then, Smith said least a 5-percent would be fair and doable.




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