County pay issues debated at workshop

Quay County Commissioner Sue Dowell proposed changes in policy and county employee pay levels Monday in a County Commission public budget workshop.

Dowell, who recently attended classes to receive certification as a county official, suggested that the county examine policies and ensure that county departments are following them.

She said that in conversations with county employees, she has found that they don’t always follow policy.  If some policies are considered impractical, she said, they should be changed, but one of the county commission’s duties is to ensure that policies are followed, she added.

Dowell also proposed that some low-end pay levels for county employees be raised in order to ensure that all county employees are paid a living wage.   Some county employees, even with 10 years of experience, are making less than $10 per hour, she said.

It’s very hard to meet family needs on such low pay levels, she said.

Commissioner Mike Cherry, however, said that it would be nearly impossible to boost low-end pay without unfairly affecting higher pay levels.

Commissioners discussed setting  pay raises on a fixed amount per hour basis, rather than basing them on a percentage of pay as a possible way to pay proportionately more to those at lower pay levels.

Dowell also proposed that the county study job duties and pay levels to create a systematic pay scaling system based on defined job descriptions and criteria for  pay level changes.

Cherry said such a system would open the county to legal challenges.  Such systems, he said, work better in the private sector than in government.

 

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