In a rare meeting with county commissioners Monday, employees voiced frustrations over pay problems.
However, Franklin County Highway Administrator Eva Gadcke said she and other department heads “want to be part of the solution, not part of the problem.”
The meeting was between the three county commissioners — Tim Brinker, Mike Schatz and John Griesheimer — appointed department heads and other employees. County Counselor Mark Vincent also attended.
Gadcke said it was the first time that she remembers a meeting between just the commissioners and the five appointed department heads taking place.
Talk of conducting an employee pay plan has been debated by county commissioners for months, and Gadcke said it may be better to conduct some of the pay study in-house with county staff, especially the part that deals with updating job descriptions.
Building Department Director Bill Placht said job descriptions in the county need to be updated to match what employees are actually doing.
Angie Hittson with the county health department said the job descriptions for employees in her office are out of date.
The purpose of conducting a pay study is to bring county employees’ compensation in line with current market conditions. The current pay plan is about 15 years old, and in that time inflation and technological changes have impacted how much employees should be paid.
“We are all in this together,” Brinker said. “As taxpayers we’re all in this together.”
Brinker told the department heads that he and the other commissioners have decided to contact a few firms that do pay studies to see what they could offer and for what cost.
Meanwhile, Brinker said he also is speaking with similar-sized Missouri counties about how they handle pay plan issues.
Brinker said he is against the idea of conducting part of the pay plan internally, saying that he thinks it should be handled by a firm with expertise in pay issues
Brinker also asked department heads and employees to please be patient as the commissioners work to solve the pay problems.
Building department employee Tony Henry questions the wisdom of the county hiring a firm to do the study, saying he does not think money is available. Henry said he thinks a pay study could easily be done in-house by making phone calls to see what other entities pay.
Henry said there is no point to spend money on a pay study when there is no money for raises anyway.
Moreover, Henry asked why the county would want to spend money on a new pay plan when the current one has not been followed?
“We’re not even following the procedures we have in place to make recommendations for increases in salary,” Henry said.
For instance, Henry said employees are not getting regular performance reviews, adding, “I’ve been here three years, and I’ve had one review.”
Employees should get reviews every six months, he said.
Schatz said conducting a pay study will help the county get a baseline figure in terms of how much employees should be paid. Schatz added that a pay study could find that some employees are making more than they should be or less.
But Henry said he does not think that there are any county employees who are making more than they should be. Common sense says that if employees have not had a raise since 2008 and health insurance costs have gone up that employees are underpaid, he said.
Hittson said she has worked for other employers who gave raises based on performance.
“I liked having that communication with my supervisor,” Hittson said. “It made me feel appreciated within my job.”
Henry asked the commissioners for specifics in terms of what they are doing to save money so raises can be given to workers.
Griesheimer said the commissioners scrutinize all purchases as much as possible, adding that individual departments have also tightened their belts. Fortunately, layoffs have been avoided, Griesheimer said.
A recent Missouri Supreme Court decision that resulted in the county no longer being able to collect sales tax on out-of-state vehicle purchases has hurt the county, Griesheimer said.
Griesheimer said the county commission also is going to a paperless meeting system to save money on paper and ink.
Henry said he understands if money is not available to give raises, but he said it is frustrating when some workers get raises and others do not.
That happened this year when two county departments — the assessor’s office and the recorder of deeds office — gave raises while other county workers were not given increases.
Griesheimer said those departments were able to give raises because they left positions vacant, meaning that the employees that were left had to carry a larger workload.
Brinker, who just took office in January, said he will not be in favor of such action taking place again. If a department leaves a position vacant, that money will be taken out of that department’s budget and not used to give raises to the remaining employees, Brinker said.
“I can damn well look you in the eye and tell you, It ain’t gonna happen again,” Brinker said.