By Greg Bird
McCreary County employees got an early Christmas present Thursday night as the McCreary County Fiscal Court made a significant personnel decision giving county employees their first raise in several years.
With a unanimous vote the Fiscal Court approved a plan issuing a $1 per hour raise to all county employees, both full and part time, which will go in to effect for the first pay period in January.
The idea originated through the efforts of McCreary County EMS/911 Director Jimmy Barnett, who developed a plan to add a second ambulance dedicated to non-emergency transfers, which should increase revenues enough to compensate for the additional payroll without affecting the General Fund.
Barnett stated the first non-emergency transfer vehicle, added to the fleet last year, generated about $374,000 in revenue for the county. Even when factoring in additional costs such as fuel, maintenance and payroll.
Adding a dedicated transfer vehicle has proven to be a wise move by the Ambulance Service as the demand for transfers has been strong and many runs have had to be turned down due to lack of availability of crews and units.
Though the Ambulance Service was producing enough revenue to probably cover the cost of issuing raises to all employees in that department, Barnett said he didn’t think it would be fair to other county employees who hadn’t seen a raise in pay for several years.
Barnett’s plan would add a second non-emergency transfer vehicle to the fleet – potentially bringing in more than $300,000 in additional revenue. Those extra funds would go toward financing a $1 per hour raise for every county employee: from the Road Department to courthouse custodians.
The raise will not only add a few extra dollars in employee’s pockets, it will also help retain staff who may look to move to another county to find work with a higher pay rate.
Barnett said the McCreary County EMS has been fighting a losing battle to surrounding counties when it comes to paying EMT’s due to the discrepancy in pay rates. Often, he explained, he would train a paramedic or EMT, only to loose them to a neighboring county with a higher hourly rate.
The raise will affect approximately 114 full time and part time county employees, but no elected officials, and cost an estimated $242,000 a year.
The Fiscal Court also approved a move that would convert all salaried county employees to an hourly rate, satisfying a recommendation from auditors. Judge Stephens said the move should not affect payroll, as any overtime has to be pre-approved.
In other Fiscal Court actions Thursday: The Court authorized County Attorney Conley Chaney to begin legal action against delinquent loan holders with the Revolving Loan program. There was the possibility of using a collection agency to recover the delinquent funds, but the Magistrates felt it would be better to handle the matter internally.
Judge Stephens said there are still four loans outstanding and more information on those accounts will be presented next month.
The next meeting of the McCreary County Fiscal Court will be on Thursday, January 11.