By. Bryan Rothamel, Field Officer
Working on a dinner deadline, the Fluvanna County Board of Supervisors mainly flew through its October 7th meeting.
The one issue that divided the board was increasing pay for employees that achieve additional educational, licensure or certificates after hiring. The supervisors approved increasing wages on a sliding scale based on the item earned, retroactively effective July 1, 2015. The vote was 3-2, Don Weaver (Cunningham District) and Bob Ullenbruch (Palmyra District) dissented.
Previously, Fluvanna would hire employees with a base salary starting on the lowest end of the salary band the job was in. The county administration staff can increase the base up to 15 percent from that base. Steve Nichols, the county administrator, takes in consideration experience, additional education beyond requirements, and licenses and certificates earned at that time. Then after the hire date, if an employee earns additional education, licenses or certificates, no additional compensation was given. Employees would only earn normal raises or bonuses.
Gail Parrish, the county’s human resource manager, told the board increasing pay on a predictable scale will help retain employees. Currently, employees best hope of an increased salary is to get a job elsewhere; making Fluvanna a training ground. Hiring and training a new employee becomes costly for the county and loses institutional knowledge. “Once the employee comes to work for us, if they gain a degree…they are not recognized with additional pay,” said Parrish.
The scale presented included an annual increase of $500 for certificate, $1,000 for a licensure, $500 for an associate’s degree, $1,000 for a bachelor’s degree, $1,000 for a graduate degree and $2,000 for a doctorate. Employees would be limited to a $2,000 increase over the course of a fiscal year. Permanent part-time employees would be eligible on an equivalent amount to hours worked. So a half-time employee would get half the amount.
Weaver and Ullenbruch objected to the item, which was estimated to impact the current fiscal year by $16,000, being brought up in the middle of the year and not during the budget cycle. Staff proposed using the personnel contingency budget line to pay for FY16.
“To me, this should be brought up and integrated during the budget time,” said Weaver.
Ullenbruch asked why the county would pay for hypothetical degrees such as someone who cuts grass who earns a degree in a field not related to outside maintenance.
Nichols said if the county hired someone with a bachelor’s, even if unrelated to the field working in, it would pay more than for someone in the same position without any degree.
“A lot of the skills people do take away [from earning the degree] add to every job,” said Parrish.
Mike Sheridan (Columbia District) thought the idea had merit because it makes employees feel appreciated. “I think it makes a huge effort when they know it’s a ‘family’,” said Sheridan.
Supervisors passed the measure but required staff to include some minor changes. Supervisors will have to ratify the changes at the next meeting, most likely during the consent agenda.
Supervisors also passed a new salary band scale that included increases from the latest budget period. It also put constitutional officers in a band that included all officers, instead of having some beyond their band because of tenure and regular bonuses. No officers are given raises not required from state or county pay plans.
A deer hunt for handicapped hunters will occur at Pleasant Grove on the afternoon of January 1, 2016. This has been an annual occurrence since 2013. The park will be closed for the hunters to shoot without the public around. Deer that are killed are kept by the hunters or given to others associated with the hunt. No harvested deer are left.
An information technology position was reclassified to help attract a position that the county currently needs compared to what was previously done. The position is currently vacant.
Fluvanna’s Finance Board moved $5 million into a higher generating interest account this summer. It has earned $16,000 since the move. Previously, the $5 million was sitting in a very low interest savings account.
The next supervisor meeting is Oct. 21 at 7 p.m. It is expected to be long with James River Water Authority special use permits, Zion Crossroads water project design and build contract and a business rezoning request near Lake Monticello’s west end. All are expected to be on the agenda. If citizens are planning to stay until the end, bring snacks.
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