Taxpayers to feel sting of pay hikes

Tue, 06/17/2008 - 3:50pm
By: Letters to the ...

Ten percent, 14.2, 9.2, 9.4, 5.4, 7.5, 8.3, 16, 9.4, 7.5, 17.6 percent, 7.2, 2.6, 7.5, 7.1, 9.3, 3.4, 13.7, 17.4, 8.7, 5.4, 9.1, 7, 14.7 percent.

Those numbers are the increases for salary and benefits for many of the county departments. The average is 9.5 percent.

To generate this list, I skipped any department that promoted someone, or increased staff or had transfers of duties to another department. All the departments I’ve listed had no addition in the number of people or their hours and had no promotions.

The federal cost of living adjustment (or COLA) for this past year was 2.3 percent.

How many of Fayette County’s employers, the taxpayers, received an increase in their paycheck that matched 7.5 percent, 8.3 percent, 9.1 percent or 17.4 percent? Not many.

There is an article by John Thompson in yesterday’s paper. It quotes the interim administrator, “This budget does not add any new positions and keeps any open positions frozen.” Further on, “Krakeel pointed out the county currently has nearly 20 vacancies, and if those positions are filled, it would cost the county an additional $1.1 million”.

So, authorized positions, positions the commission was told were needed, are going unfilled. So, either they were not needed or we are cutting services to the taxpayer. It has to be one or the other.

No new hires. A freeze in place. Cuts in the operating budget of almost every department, a very small capitol budget; but massive salary increases.

This is a budget designed for the current employees. It’s not designed for the employers – the taxpayer. It’s not about service for the people who pay.

It looks like to me that departments were told to cut spending across the board in order to protect the massive pay raises that were voted in by this board in February.

Remove or reduce these raises and there would be room to cut this budget and reduce the millage rate and taxes.

I intend to vote against this budget. And, in the future my resistance to hiring new people will be informed by the fact that the county administration feels that we have 20 open positions we don’t need to fill now.

More on the minutes: I informed the commission that I ran into Billy Beckett, who used to be the county administrator. We talked about the minutes issue, and he gave me some information about Safety Harbor, Fla., where he used to be city manager and also about the new city of Milton in north Fulton County.

I’ve looked at their websites and Carol Chandler and Karen Morley are looking into the systems they use. I think they are much better than ours and do a better job of informing their citizens.

On this subject, I am still amazed that a change this significant in the way we keep the public informed about their government was accomplished without a vote by this commission and, at least in my case, without even a discussion about it.

The only public vote or discussions about this important issue were because I’ve objected. What a poor commitment to open government.

Peter Pfeifer

County Commission, Post 3

Peachtree City, Ga.

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Submitted by Vernon on Fri, 06/20/2008 - 11:47am.

Again, who is getting these high percentages? I've spoke with some employees of the county and they got about 2.5%-3.5% in 2008 & no COLA. Many didn't receive a merit raise in 2007 because of the "great pay study". These same employees was told that July 2009 they would get another approx. 2.5%-3.5%. To break it down so Peter, Dunn etc. can understand: 2007 = no merit raise, only COLA. 2008 = about 3%, no COLA & 2009 = about 3%, unknown about COLA. That is 6% raise for a peroid of three (3) years; which is 2% per year plus COLA in 2007. Prior to this "great pay study" employees regulary received from 2.5% - 5% merit raises in addition to COLA. If anything this new commission has saved money in raises when compared to the Dunn, Peter, Wells years. That is why employees with little time with Fayette Co. seek other jobs in the private sector or other city, county governments. Maybe those high numbers quoted by Peter, Dunn etc. were given to the department heads, or those serving in the positions of bosses.
Dunn is so set against a defined benefit, but he receives one from the Military. Maybe he should give up his retirement to make a stronger case for his opinion.

Submitted by the weasel on Fri, 06/20/2008 - 12:04am.

It wouldn't surprise me if some of the bloggers who are critical of Pfeifer were current commissioners or people put up to it by them.

Some of the commissioners would love nothing more than to get rid of Peter Pfeifer - then they could continue to blindside the citizens without anyone to object or inform us. Sure, vote for Hearn or Kourajian - then we'd have one more to go along, get along. Kourajian was ineffective as a councilman, and I'm sure wouldn't do any better on the commission.

I know Peter Pfeifer. He is proud of Fayette County and it's employees - he would give them the moon if he could. Has anyone noticed the state of the economy these days? Has anyone seen what is going on with the staff in East Point? Maybe the raises could have been given in increments rather than all at one time.

I'm voting for Peter Pfeifer. I like knowing there is someone in our local government who is looking out for our best interest.

Sshh - don't tell anyone!

Submitted by biteme.1776 on Thu, 06/19/2008 - 8:29am.

I don't know who supposedly got the 7.5 or higher pay increase. I do know most employees I have talked to would have done better with the COLA 2.3 pay increase instead of the joke they called the pay study. There have been several county employees who have left Fayette County for Henry County. Why, simple higher pay along with better benefits. Due to this supposedly great pay increase, that is a joke, and budget issues there will be no COLA or merit raises for any county employees in the 09 budget. We will have to wait and see what happens in the 10 budget.

The job study or pay study that was done gave figures to bring the county employees salaries to a competitive level. Problem with that is the study’s figures were from last summer before the huge cost of living increase. By using out dated numbers the salary figures are already behind. Add the fact no COLA for at least 2 years puts it even farther behind. Now instead of being competitive once again county employees lag behind in benefits and salaries.

As for the new benefits package, I am not so sure that is best for county employees or the county citizens. Time will tell…

Submitted by GovtProstitute on Thu, 06/19/2008 - 9:05am.

What percentages did the departments with turn-over(s) receive? Please, someone enter the average increase per department of all departments. You have to love election year budgets, let's look good for the voters. Several "Professional Level Employees" received little to no increase at all. I commend Mr. Maxwell greatly for calling out Mr. Pfeifer as to his rebuttal of the pay raises all the while sitting tranquil during the budget meetings. Let's ask some employees about the pay study ... were any of the pay studies original, or were they all paraphrased from the questionnaires handed to each employee indicative of each of their duties? Fayette County paid X amount of dollars to have an outside entity perform a job study; the entity takes all of the information, compiles the results, and call it their own research: good job on finding the information. Aren't job studies supposed pin-point the duties assigned & performed and thus employee paid accordingly? I can name several positions where this study failed the employee miserably. I bet all of the job classifications now read very similar to how each employee interpreted their own position. And in addition, the pay increases to the Employees were performed in such a manner (cut spending in all departments and a hiring freeze) that the vast majority of the cost was recovered in house. Tax payers need to research ALL of the facts; it is public record. Want to know where the tax increase is, look into the Board of Education, not the Board of Commissioners.

Submitted by NeedtoKnow on Wed, 06/18/2008 - 12:38am.

The average is 9.5 percent.

Here's the thing: There are some departments that have a higher rate of turnover than other departments, just by the nature of the job, or whatever the reason. There is at least one department where more than half of the employees have been on the job less than 3 years. Those employees saw a larger percentage of a raise, as the base salary was raised, and they were brought up to that level. Good for them, but the employees who had much more experience, even 5+ years of experience, now make very little more. Their raises were very much a less percentage.

Any department like that (with a majority of "new" hires less than 3 yrs on the job), where the base salary was brought up to the level of comparable jobs (comparable skills, comparable sized companies/municipalities) could be skewed like this.

The commission did not just toss out raises willy-nilly, pulling numbers out of the air. A disinterested third party did a very in-depth study and came up with the numbers.

Robert W. Morgan's picture
Submitted by Robert W. Morgan on Wed, 06/18/2008 - 5:39am.

Get off the stage. You have outlived your usefulness. With Dunn coming back on the commission (almost a sure thing) we need someone who can keep him in check. Hearn would be my first choice - they have some bad blood between them and that would be great to see them clash. I do think Mr. Frady can leave as well.

Submitted by bluemoon on Wed, 06/18/2008 - 8:47am.

What is the history with these two? How would having a Commission with bad blood be the best for Fayette County?

Submitted by skyspy on Wed, 06/18/2008 - 8:01am.

They would be the perfect check and balance feature. With those kind of fireworks promised commission meetings would be packed everytime.

Good point Robert.

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