Court approves five percent raise for employees

Published 1:02 pm Wednesday, August 2, 2017

By Larry Holt

The Orange Leader

It was a full court today and well attended including attendees with business before the court, such as Sheriff Keith Merritt, and Purchasing Agent Connie Cassidy.

Having called the court into session, prior business was attended to including approval of July 25 and 26 meeting minutes.

Judge Carlton then methodically led the court through each agenda item, including but not limited to approval of monthly and quarterly County Treasurer reports, payment of bills approved by the County Auditor and line item transfers requested by the Sheriff Office.

Judge Stephen Brint Carlton led discussion regarding the work that was done analyzing the Orange County Employee’s Pay Matrix.

Carlton, County Auditor Pennee Schmitt, and Commissioner John Gothia worked tirelessly combing through financials and exploring possibilities for positively affecting the pay of non-elected county employees – including CBA members.

After discussion, the court unanimously approved an employee pay matrix effective the first pay date of the 2017/2018 budget.

Applause broke out from session attendees after the court unanimously voted an across the board 5-percent COLA increase and the creation of a 20-year anniversary category for pay.

“It took all of us over the years to get to the place we are now,” Carlton said. “As a county, we are in a good place. We are better this year than at least the last four. I am happy we could come together to increase the pay and incentive for employees.”

“It hasn’t been since 2005-2006 year that we have seen a 5% COLA increase,” Schmitt said.

Carlton remarked on several factors that “have made this happen, 1. Our fund balance is better than expected, and 2. We controlled expenditures in prior years.”

“We will continue to put money away for the rainy-day fund while in addition increasing county employee pay and investing in county infrastructure,” Commissioner John Gothia said. “With the revenue and expenditures we are projecting, this is a sustainable model.”

“I want to thank the employee’s who come to work every day and do their best,” Commissioner John Trahan said. “We couldn’t do this today if it weren’t for your help.”

In other business, the court approved budget transfer requests within the Orange County Convention and Expo Center for a wall repair project, from Agrilife for operating funds for the remainder of the fiscal year, and from the purchasing department for operating funds and for a new Rapidprint ARL-E time stamp machine (the current one is approximately 13-years old, has been previously repaired, “and is ready to move on,” said Connie Cassidy. All commissioners agreed).