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County officials to get state-mandated raise

While the Washington County Commission has yet to make a decision on salary increases for the 2013 budget, some county employees are already assured of a raise.
During budget hearings this month, Mayor Dan Eldridge announced the State of Tennessee has ordered a 1.6 percent increase be awarded to county officials.
“The dollars will come from the county, but the state determines when officials gets raises,” Eldridge said in a later interview. The 3 percent increase the commission voted to give county employees last year did not apply to the officials, he added.
Employees in the Washington County Election Office have already received a bump in pay as a result of eliminating the full-time deputy position held by Maybell Stewart after she was named Administrator of Elections in April.
Employee salaries are under a signed agreement between the office holders and Eldridge as chief financial officer of Washington County.
“Each office holder has complete autonomy over whom they hire to work in their offices,” he said. “What they can’t do is increase the salaries.”
However, the agreement offers an incentive for office holders to reduce the size of their staffs.
If the office holder eliminates a position and returns all of the costs associated with benefits and one half of the salary to the General Fund, the other half of the salary can be divided out among the remaining employees at the office holder’s discretion.
Eliminating Stewart’s former position allowed Election Office employees to share in an estimated $16,000 worth of raises.
The only other office holder to make a staff reduction is Property Assessor Scott Buckingham, who cut a position in his office last year.
“I really thought I’d have more takers,” Eldridge said.