Franklin County Pays Workers Less Than Some Smaller Counties - The Missourian: County

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Franklin County Pays Workers Less Than Some Smaller Counties

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Posted: Sunday, June 9, 2013 8:00 am

In some cases, Franklin County pays its employees less money compared to what less-populated counties pay their workers, an analysis found.

County Clerk Debbie Door said “it is out of whack” for smaller counties to pay their employees more than Franklin County.

The salary range for her employees is $21,840 to $37,828, which is less than Buchanan and Cass counties.

Employees Upset

“My employees are upset about it,” Door said, adding that she realizes her staff is “underpaid.”

However, Door noted that comparing her office to county clerk offices in other counties may not be an exact comparison because some duties could differ.

Franklin County has not given an across-the-board pay raise since 2008.

However, some select county employees did get raises this year when the budget was approved in January.

For instance, the recorder of deeds office and the assessor’s office were able to give raises with money saved from leaving positions vacant. Also, an employee in the auditor’s office got a raise in 2012 after she completed her probationary period.

Door said she thinks it is inappropriate for some offices to get raises when other departments do not get increases.

In the past when she has had money left over in her budget, Door has given it back to the county general fund, not given her employees raises. She said she thought that was what all departments were doing until certain departments gave raises this year.

“I’m fiscally responsible with taxpayer dollars,” Door said.

When select raises were given, it showed that not everyone was playing by the same rules, Door added.

If the economy improves and hiring picks up in other areas, Door said she could lose employees to better-paying jobs.

She said she hopes the county commissioners understand that her office and other departments deserve more money. And she said her focus is on getting her employees raises, not herself and the other elected officials.

The county is still a good place to work, because of the benefits package, Door added.

County Assessor Tom Copeland said he has no idea what other counties pay their employees.

The salary range for his employees is $24,628 to $41,350, which is less than both Cass and Buchanan counties.

Copeland said he does not know if his employees realize that smaller counties pay their workers better.

He said he believes the Franklin County Commission does everything it can to help the employees.

The county commissioners have most of the authority when it comes to setting wages, Copeland said. But he said he was able to give slight increases this year with the money saved from staff vacancies.

Finding money for raises is hard, especially with state funding cuts, he added. Keeping county operations financially afloat is a “continuous struggle,” Copeland said.

Pay Study?

Franklin County commissioners have discussed hiring a firm to study employee pay. But it appears there is not enough money to do the study at this time.

“It’s not going to happen right now,” First District County Commissioner Tim Brinker said Friday.

However, Brinker said he plans on reviewing the St. Charles County pay plan in an effort to update Franklin County’s job descriptions.

It is a good idea to conduct a salary study, Door said.

Second District Commissioner Mike Schatz said he has not seen numbers that show smaller counties pay their workers more money, but he said he is not surprised.

He said he does not know what those counties are doing differently from Franklin County, but he said it is important to compare “apples to apples.”

Those counties may not have the same level of expenditures as Franklin County, Schatz said.

With the county’s current budget outlook, it looks doubtful that employee raises will happen in the next budget, he said.

However, Schatz said it is “premature” to count raises out completely, saying he would at least like to give a one-time bonus.

His primary goal is to keep employees on staff, he said.

But Schatz said he thinks it is a waste of money to have a pay study done now. There is no point in paying for a study if the money is not available to give raises, Schatz said.

The county’s sales tax revenue remains flat, Schatz said, adding, “At least it’s not a dip in the wrong direction.”

Schatz would rather wait and do a pay study when the money is available to give raises.

The focus now should be on getting jobs in Franklin County, he said. He hopes new economic development zones being put in place in the county will help bring jobs.

The county must also brace for the Affordable Healthcare Act and the impact it will have on the county, businesses and residents, he said. Schatz said he worries that the new law could put people out of work.

He said he is thankful he has a job with the county, adding that a lot of people are looking for work.

The county’s current unemployment rate is 6.8 percent for April, the latest figures available. That is down from 7.8 percent in March.

The statewide unemployment rate in April was 6.6 percent.

Comparison

The Missourian compared pay levels of some Franklin County government employees with two smaller counties.

The pay in Franklin County, which has a population of 101,412, was compared to the counties of Buchanan, population 89,706; and Cass, 100,376.

The comparison looked at the offices of assessor, auditor, collector of revenue, county clerk, public administrator, recorder of deeds and treasurer. Salaries for elected officials were not included in the comparison.

Below are pay ranges for Franklin County offices compared to pay ranges for Cass and Buchanan counties. The amounts do not include benefits and are before taxes are taken out:

Franklin County

Assessor’s Office:

$24,628.50 to $41,350.40

Auditor’s Office:

$35,568

Collector of Revenue Office:

$25,428 to $37,828.44

County Clerk’s Office:

$21,840 to $37,828.44

Public Administrator Office:

$29,308.50

Recorder of Deeds Office:

$24,121.50 to $37,828.44

Treasurer’s Office:

The only other worker besides the elected treasurer is part time.

Buchanan County

Assessor’s Office:

$25,080 to $42,852

Auditor’s Office:

$35,200.20 to $41,655.60

Collector of Revenue Office:

$24,000 to $44,055.60

County Clerk’s Office:

$27,600 to $41,655.60

Public Administrator Office:

$19,999.92 to $41,615.04

Recorder of Deeds Office:

$26,362.80 to $42,555.60

Treasurer’s Office:

$28,512 to $41,655.60

Cass County

Assessor’s Office:

$29,790 to $47,929.92

Auditor’s Office:

$32,230.08 to $57,720

Collector of Revenue Office:

$27,499.92 to $41,813.28

County Clerk’s Office:

$30,159.84 to $35,575.92

Public Administrator Office:

$29,640 to $36,399.84

Recorder of Deeds Office:

$29,320.56 to $41,283.60

Treasurer’s Office:

$31,200

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