What recession? County pay goes way up

Tue, 06/17/2008 - 4:25pm
By: John Thompson

Fayette County Commissioner Peter Pfeifer let it be known Thursday night that he could not support the county’s proposed budget for the next fiscal year.

“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,” Pfeifer said.

By his calculations, the average increase in pay per county employee was 9.5 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,” he said.

Pfeifer added that the motivations were clear in preparing the budget.

“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,” Pfeifer said.

“I intend to vote against this budget,” he said.

But Commissioner Eric Maxwell said it was a little late for Pfeifer to be bringing up these points.

“This is grandstanding. Why didn’t you bring this up when we discussed the budget during an all-day session,” he said.

Nobody spoke during the public hearing on the budget and approval of the $79 million total budget is set for June 26.

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Submitted by ben dover on Thu, 06/19/2008 - 3:39pm.

the commission did a great job with the decrease in budget - looking at the county's insurance costs.... employees needed a raise after living under Dunn's archaic method of analyzing pay trends... but what the community needs to look at is the wasted money by the city of fayetteville and that city manager and his cronies building the runway of lights and benches nobody will ever sit on along 54 west.... it looks like creflo dollar's place off sandy creek. any basic city planner or designer could tell you there were way too many lights... poor sam burch, probably keeps him up all night. way to go fayetteville. who's at the controls.... done by taxes (federal or city) again... ben dover.

Submitted by whynot on Thu, 06/19/2008 - 10:02pm.

Once again you have citizens complaining about work that was done with state grants and blaming it on the local officials. The money that was put toward the downtown improvement projects in Fayetteville was used with state grant money. Its a project to improve the overall look of the downtown area and try to keep that hometown feel (please save your comments about the crime rate and the Pavilion, you knew this was coming). The street lights and benches will add a nice look to the downtown area and I am really happy to see the improvement. Ben you should try to research your facts before you raise complaints on a local newspaper that already has WAY too many cry babies.

Submitted by Howard Beale on Thu, 06/19/2008 - 3:56pm.

The (seemingly too close together) light posts, the brick crossings, benches and the sidewalks came out of the city of Fayetteville's budget, over which Pfiefer and the commission exercise no control.
Don't quote me on it, but I'm pretty sure that the majority of the money spent on that downtown beautification project came from federal grants.
Also, the city of Fayetteville under Ken Steele and Joe Morton is the county wide model for keeping taxes low while securing the best possible value for the taxpayer.
The county, Peachtree City and Tyrone could all learn something by talking to the folks who put together Fayetteville's budget.

My prediction: an August 5th runoff between Hearn and Kourajian for post 3. Pfiefer is way out of touch and I for one sure won't be voting for him (or his cronies Dunn, Fuhrman and Wells) on the 15th.

Submitted by Save Fayette on Thu, 06/19/2008 - 1:52pm.

You are only hearing the Grandstanding by Done and Phifer.
What the News Paper, Phifer and Done keep failing
to mention is that.
The County Passed a Budget that is 6% LESS THAN last years Budget
This years Budget included all new pay increases.
I have not seen a decline in service!!
And from what I'am seeing is they are preparing for the next years Budget. You need to get the Facts!!!

Submitted by thenatural on Thu, 06/19/2008 - 2:15pm.

This is good information. Now the millage rate will drop and we will all get lower tax bills. Oh, wait this is not true. So what you are saying is that there was so much fat in the county budget last year that they could give the raises AND cut this year? If they had cut the budget last year, and this year, then they could have rolled back the millage rate like they did the 6 years prior to the present board being in charge of the budget. That ain't happening.

By the way, the reason that you have not seen a decline in service so far is because this is NEXT YEAR'S budget.

Submitted by GovtProstitute on Thu, 06/19/2008 - 2:55pm.

Since Fayette County is not in "NEXT YEAR'S budget" until July 1, you are only partially correct here. OK Big deal, the millage rate was decreased 6 years ago, kodos to the standing commission of the time. You can not be blind to the facts ... inflation is rising, government salaries are not keeping up. Your ideologies are common amongst anti-governmental beliefs and spending. It takes money to run a government entity. We really should cut spending where we can. Should we hire someone who is "Lean Six Sigma" certified? Let me define that for those who are not savvy with the idea ... Lean Six Sigma auditors are those who can "cut the fat" from any angle of expenditures: excessive spending, salaries, and positions. So for anyone who really wants to see the numbers, please look for them: you will find that Fayette County is performing to and or above the same standards as surrounding counties all the while employing less personnel. So there is very little that Lean Six Sigma standards can save financially in Fayette County. The fact that many County Employees are performing duties with older and sometimes antiquated equipment due to the recent budget cuts says the county has done its diligence. So as a taxpayer, I will do my diligence and support the pay increases for County Employees. I want trained staff available when emergencies arise. I would rather a veteran in service than a rookie in training when I get carted off in an ambulance, or a fire strikes near my home.

NUK_1's picture
Submitted by NUK_1 on Thu, 06/19/2008 - 7:26pm.

Since Fayette County is not in "NEXT YEAR'S budget" until July 1, you are only partially correct here.

That would actually make him/her 100% correct since they stated that there is no way to know of any decline in services due to the new budget since it hasn't started yet..

OK Big deal, the millage rate was decreased 6 years ago, kodos to the standing commission of the time.

The poster stated that the millage rate was decreased the last 6 years, not just 6 years ago.

You can not be blind to the facts ... inflation is rising, government salaries are not keeping up.

Inflation declined in 2007 from 2006, so why would government salaries need to "keep up?"

Submitted by hsh87 on Thu, 06/19/2008 - 7:55am.

Thank you Mr. Pfeifer - I appreciate you supporting us, the taxpayers. If I get a huge increase on my tax bill, yes I will raise cain - last year my assessed value went up over $23,000 - making my house payment go up $100/month - my pay nor my husbands has gone up, but all of our expenses have - I know this rings true for ALOT of people - this goes with the BOE too - they have this new proposed budget and therefore may have to raise the mill as well to an outrageous rate - now I know I have to move - why are all the surrounding counties booming and yet their taxes are not putting people out of their homes - some of the salaries in the county and BOE are ridiculous - Dr. Decotis got an enormous raise last year? Some jobs have salary caps - I don't think this would be a bad idea for the county to follow - this could save in the budget - but I also know only some county and BOE employees make "good" money - I have a hard time believing all this money they say is going to pay and are seeking for "the budget" is really for that. Oh, and how many of these people who want this increase live in Fayette? Do they all? I wish everyone would step up and say, NO, enough is enough!

Submitted by GovtProstitute on Thu, 06/19/2008 - 11:23am.

Thanks for voting against the budget. That will help drive the rest of the "good" employees to better paying jobs. Now we can better spend the County's budget on training new hires. We will train the new hire to be happy with income shortfalls. We will also train them to shut up and take what is given to them, or they too can leave (darn, gotta train another one). Why can't County Employees afford to live in Fayette County, you do the research ... they don't make enough to compensate their expenditures. About you not being able to afford your home, I can only blame you. Everyone want to "keep up with the Jones". Everyone wants to live in a nice home, who wouldn't. Everyone wants to drive new cars, I too am guilty. BUT common sense should prevail, you still need money to live on. Leave the credit cards in your pocket, don't overspend your personal budget. Simple ideology really, if you can't afford the maintenance of a purchase, you can't afford the purchase. Meaning, I can afford to buy an expensive vehicle, but the "up-keep" is too costly; thus I won't buy the vehicle. I can afford to buy a "really nice" home, but if I can't afford the taxes and the maintenance repairs & insurance, or the projected taxes in years to come; I can't rightfully say I can afford the home. Inventive loans (creative ARMs with balloon pmts) have placed more homeowners in homes that they would never be able to afford under conventional loans. But we can't blame ourselves, can we. We could afford it then, just not now.

Submitted by NeedtoKnow on Thu, 06/19/2008 - 8:45am.

Some jobs have salary caps ... only some county and BOE employees make "good" money ... how many of these people who want this increase live in Fayette?

Salary caps: They are already in place in Fayette County. Some of the employees who have been here for a decade or more have not had a raise (except COLA, and that's not every year) in many years, and this new raise gave them very little more.

Some making "good" money: Define good. What do you think is reasonable for the head of public safety (top guy over fire/911/animal services) to make? Or the head of animal services? Or a Captain with the fire dept? Or a Capt with the Sheriff dept? Seriously, I'd love to hear what everyone thinks!

How many county employees (both with the BOC and the BOE) live in Fayette County? That's a good question! The majority that I know, don't. They can't afford it.

Submitted by dumbfounded on Wed, 06/18/2008 - 3:22pm.

How about you give back to your employer 30% of your pay and benefits ... we can call this Corporate Waste Recovery. And please, revolt against your taxes, better yet don't pay them ... just make sure you post you physical address so everyone has an equal opportunity to bid on your home at the next auction. OH AND BY THE WAY, governments historically earn on average about 60% - 70% of the salary and benefit packages offered by private industry. So instead of the 30%, match government employees at the 40% pay cut; then log back in and complain about government waste.

Submitted by dumbfounded on Wed, 06/18/2008 - 2:34pm.

If you were to break down the raises by functionality, you would find a huge discrepancy with the comments and more so the distribution of the percentages given to the employees. Let say we look at "Professional grades, public service, and technical trades". I surely did not see anything even close to the lowest percent quoted (7.5%). This pay study was supposed to "catch up to current salary ranges" for Fayette County Employees. Well, I think the objective was missed. The cost of living has already increased well above what I received as a raise. The study also produced a closure to 2009 performance and cost of living increases. So now the employees will be sitting on a stagnant salary for 1 - 1.5 yrs. Retention was another goal to the pay study recently administered. The salaries are going to have to be better than they are currently to keep quality employees. AND HIGHFLYER2 and JOKERMAN, thanks for your recent comments. Proves there is some intelligence left in our community.

Submitted by Vernon on Wed, 06/18/2008 - 1:20pm.

Well Pete,
I know alot of the employees received MUCH lower amounts than you are saying. There maybe some departments or most likely some department heads (alot of them think they are worth more than they are) that received those figures. Why don't you share with us poor taxpayers that are getting the raw deal (as you suggest) the break down on these raises per department, levels, and positions. What are the various department heads making? What do we pay our law enforcement, fire, ambulances, water dept., road repair etc.? I've heard and read ramblings of views from both sides of the subject. To be a well informed taxpayer, I would like to know the facts, not political opinions. Thank You.

Submitted by NeedtoKnow on Wed, 06/18/2008 - 4:21pm.

I don't know if it the open records law applies to county government pay scales, but it should, shouldn't it? As a taxpayer I think so!

What do we pay our law enforcement, fire, ambulances,

I think starting pay for the Sheriff's dept was about $34K, not sure now. And starting pay for a level 1 firefighter (who is also an EMT) was about $32K. A 911 operator/dispatcher was starting at about $24K.

NUK_1's picture
Submitted by NUK_1 on Wed, 06/18/2008 - 7:33pm.

They certainly are subject to open records laws, even individual names and compensation. Simple enough to get, though why didn't Peter Pfeiffer say "boo" about this big pay raise before? That's typical of Pfeiffer...he gets something right AFTER the fact and then jumps up and down. When it is actually going on, he says zilch. Same thing happened with the open meetings cluster where he sat there silent until a later date.

A defined benefit pension plan is a terrible idea, but since it's the taxpayers that have to foot the bill, those people get to decide whether commissioners who think it's such a wonderful plan stay in office or not.

suggarfoot's picture
Submitted by suggarfoot on Thu, 06/19/2008 - 10:39am.

Tyrone's salaries are over the top, and if you pay yourself a little extra, oh well.

Submitted by KCW56 on Wed, 06/18/2008 - 1:13pm.

Peter. Keep up the good work, hopefully you will get some help soon. This is ridiculous and outrages. Keep voting "NO".

Submitted by oldbeachbear on Tue, 06/17/2008 - 10:47pm.

I've always thought well of you. People don't have any money now, and it is wrong to increase employees salaries when the employer just plain doesn't have it. Everyone is in denial...people are loosing their homes all around us. They can't afford much more on their backs. Thank you for making the point.

shadowalker's picture
Submitted by shadowalker on Wed, 06/18/2008 - 11:51am.

I agree, thanks peter

and i dont even know you,

but at least at this point you are putting income and output on a scale and seeing that they do not balance out
im sorry that county and city employees dont make much i used to work for the county and i did not like the pay and i left for more money

can not keep good people (sorry) no one can if the pay is better somewhere else.

But if boils down to you can not spend what you do not have and the citizens of fay county do not have any more sweat to give right now

back off the budget and re think it ERIC


highflyer2's picture
Submitted by highflyer2 on Wed, 06/18/2008 - 6:29am.

For the past year and a half the county has been under an "unbiased audit" to see what other surronding counties were being paid and why Fayette County was losing so many qualified people. The raises that were given out were long over due and only brought the county up (or near) to what other counties are making. There is an old saying that your heart REALLY has to be in your work if you decide to be a teacher or county employee. Bottom line, these fields will never get paid what they should for what they do. My hat goes out to the rest of the commissioners that had the guts to try and right a wrong.

aliquando's picture
Submitted by aliquando on Wed, 06/18/2008 - 7:20pm.

Our teachers make less than surrounding counties, but are not playing this game.

Submitted by NeedtoKnow on Wed, 06/18/2008 - 7:27pm.

The teachers have no more to do with this "game" than the county employees do. So if you want to call it a game, then it would be the BOE that isn't playing, not the teachers.

However, I don't call it a game. And I wouldn't have a problem with the teachers being paid more, either (even if I, the taxpayer, have to pay more taxes), because I know they deserve it just as the county employees do.

shadowalker's picture
Submitted by shadowalker on Wed, 06/18/2008 - 11:46am.

I do not agree, in my industry no one is getting rasies, the county is paying people off the backs of persons that have not recievd pay increases. and are paying out more for everything.

im sorry you can not keep people. that is a fact of life in any job markey. if the cost of living goes up and the people paying taxes do not get a cost of living allowance then how do you justify a pay raise to public serivce workers. YOU CAN NOT.

you need to go back and rethink where the money comes from

And ERIC Maxwell needs to stop playing and think about the population has a whole Eric you are grandstanding yourself just by making that comment


Submitted by jokerman on Wed, 06/18/2008 - 1:44pm.

county employees keeping up with what other counties are paying. There is a real cost to the county when trained employees leave to go to other places. These are jobs that must be done. I would guess that most private sector jobs already pay exponentially what these county employees are paid anyway.

highflyer2's picture
Submitted by highflyer2 on Wed, 06/18/2008 - 1:03pm.

We should all just work for free. After all, we are called "public workers". I really don't know what I was thinking!
Just remember that the next time you have to call a cop, fireman, or any other public service SERVANT that hopefully they have read your comment and give's you the amount of service that they are PAID to give.

shadowalker's picture
Submitted by shadowalker on Fri, 06/20/2008 - 11:03am.

you make a stupid comment

if they give me poor service they have a greater issue.

i servered in the military and put my life on the line many times

and it was BY CHOICE. knowing the poor pay

this is simple 123 addition

you can not continue to suck dry the main source of income

the local population is not getting that great a pay raise

look at the forclosures.

your stupid


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