Hamblen Finance Committee approves pay increase for employees

The Hamblen County Commission’s Finance Committee unanimously approved implementing a pay plan Monday night to help boost county employee’s compensation in order to stay competitive.

“We have some awfully good employees and we need to keep them,” Hamblen County Mayor Bill Brittain said. “We train them and we lose them.”

The committee voted on the resolution Monday night during the county commission’s regularly scheduled work session. The full commission will vote on the item next week.

Brittain told the committee that the total cost of implementing the pay plan for the remaining six months of this fiscal year would cost $150,486 and that would include payroll taxes and the state retirement contribution.

The pay plan would also include a 2% across-the-board pay raise for all county employees at a cost of around $51,000 for the remainder of the fiscal year.

Brittain said the county first conducted a pay plan study in 2005 and every five years the county looks at the plan to see what adjustments need to be made.

The county looked at the plan last year, but did not implement due to concerns about COVID-19 and how revenues would look, especially after a shutdown of the economy in April.

Hamblen County, however, was not hit hard by the shutdown, he said.

“We have not been affected, cross your fingers, negatively by the pandemic so far,” Brittain said.

He said he feels comfortable in moving forward with adjustments.

Brittain said he has been studying the pay of county employees for the last three weeks and found in the Hamblen County Sheriff’s Department that several sergeants and lieutenants were being underpaid.

The pay plan would adjust the pay for those individuals at a cost of $72,000 over the next six months.

Jailers would receive a 50 cent pay increase.

A $240 lump sum payment would be made to part-time employees for a cost of $9,700. There are a total of 34 part-time employees.

Brittain said that would bring all employees up to the minimum level.

County Commissioner Tim Goins, though, said he wasn’t sure that just bringing employees up to the minimum level is enough.

“If we’re just bringing them up to minimum level, I have a problem with that,” he said.

Brittain, though, said this is not the last phase.

“This is step one to get our guys and gals where they need to be competitive,” he said.

The Public Services Committee also voted to set up a redistricting committee in anticipation of the U.S. Census being completed. Every 10 years after the Census count is taken, local, state and federal governments are charged with redistricting political lines to make sure there are an equal amount of people in each district.

Members of that committee will be chosen next week during the full county commission.