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Amid fear that some Franklin County Highway Department employees may be looking toward greener financial pastures, the Highway Commission is requesting a pay increase in the upcoming budget.
The Highway Commission approved to ask the full Franklin County Commission to include additional funding in the budget without a property tax increase because five employees left through attrition and no longer work for the department.
Highway Superintendent Johnny Woodall said no new money is being added to the budget to accomplish the goal. He added that the Highway Department budget must still go through the County Commission for approval at budget time before raises will go into effect.
Woodall was recently asked by the Highway Commission to do a salary study to determine whether employees have been receiving fair compensation for their efforts.
Highway commissioners have said that a raise is long overdue, and the current county pay scale for the Highway Department is well below those of surrounding counties.
Woodall said the study shows that employee com-plaints about pay are justified.
“To come up with what the pay scale should be, we took six surrounding counties that touch Franklin County and averaged their pay along with the state pay scale for each position that we have in the Highway Department from laborer to first class mechanic and supervisors,” he said. “If you look at the numbers you can see Franklin County has fallen way behind on competitive pay for its employees.”
Woodall said the time to give the employees a raise is appropriate because taxpayers won’t be picking up any part of the tab.
“We were able to accomplish this without adding new money to the budget by not filling five positions from re-tired employees and employees leaving for higher paying jobs that were in our budget,” he said. “We distributed this money to the employees. We also reduced our insurance from paid 100 percent to 90 percent to be in line with the county general.”
Even with the raises, the Highway Department has around $20,000 in savings that Woodall says can be attributed to good management by the Highway Commission and employees taking on other duties to make up the difference.