As the local economy improves Franklin County could face competition to keep its employees, according to Presiding County Commissioner John Griesheimer.
But he said, “Money isn’t everything” and that there are a lot of people who wish they could work for Franklin County.
Griesheimer said Monday that he is confident raises can be given next year. The improving economy is driving up sales tax collections, a critical revenue source, he said.
“I see things turning around,” Griesheimer added.
The last sales tax report, which went through May, indicated that collections were up $176,323 over last year.
Fireworks sales, which were slow last year because of the drought conditions, could give a boost to sales tax revenue this year, Griesheimer said.
It appears the hiring outlook for Franklin County is improving, with the April unemployment rate of 6.8 percent being the lowest it has been in more than four years.
Franklin County has been losing more than 30 employees each year for the past few years.
In 2012, 35 employees stopped working for the county; 2011, 33; and 2010, 32.
Lisa Trentmann, county human resources and payroll clerk, could not provide information on why the employees left, such as how many were fired, quit or retired.
So far this year, 14 workers have ended their employment with the county, Trentmann said last week.
Franklin County does not have a high turnover rate, Griesheimer said.
“We’ve had a number of retirements,” he said, adding that it is normal in any organization for employees to come and go.
Some workers have been with the county for decades, he said.
The county has 342 employees, and that includes full-time, part-time and temporary workers, Trentmann said.
Comparing With Other Counties
In St. Charles County, which has 368,666 residents, 47 employees have left the county work force of 1,230 so far this year. In 2012, 94 workers left the county, which is much higher than the 15 who left in 2011.
Jasper County, which has a population of 115,258, has 314 employees, and 22 have left so far this year. In 2011, 50 workers left that county and 36 in 2012.
Cass County, which has a population of 100,376, has had 16 workers leave the county so far this year; 56 in 2011; and 50 in 2012.
Employee pay has been a controversial issue in Franklin County because across-the-board raises have not been given since 2008.
A 1 percent raise for employees would cost the county $150,000, First District County Commissioner Tim Brinker said recently. In 2011, the county gave workers a $700 one-time bonus.
Griesheimer said the county’s benefits, particularly the retirement package, are very difficult to beat even compared to local cities.
He agreed that it has been a long time since employees have been given a raise, but at the same time said, “It’s been a long recession.”
Too Many Employees?
While Jasper County has almost 14,000 more residents, it has fewer employees than Franklin County.
Griesheimer said this does not mean Franklin County has too many employees.
“You can’t base it on population,” he said.
He noted that Franklin County is the fourth largest county in geographic size, which presents challenges for the highway department and sheriff’s office.
Also, more than half of Franklin County’s residents live in the unincorporated area of the county, Griesheimer said. Other counties may have a larger population, but a large number of the people live in cities, he noted.
Therefore, he said Franklin County can justify having more employees than a county with a larger population.
For instance, the largest city in Franklin County is Washington, which has 13,918 residents.
In comparison, 49,526 residents live in Joplin, which is in Jasper County.
He said it appears Franklin County has the right number of employees, adding that he assumes Sheriff Gary Toelke has enough deputies.
“We are very proud to have the employees we have,” Griesheimer said.