Thursday, September 20, 2012
Franklin County may give raise to employees
Supervisors and other officials said the budget could support a small raise or one-time bonus.
Ronnie Thompson told fellow members of the Franklin County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday that he believes the county should consider granting employees a raise, noting they have gone without a pay increase for "four years, going on five." He said raises should be considered for both county and public schools division workers.
"We need to come up with something to reward our employees," Thompson said. "As a county, we are only as good or bad as our employees are."
He said he could also support a one-time bonus.
Supervisor Leland Mitchell asked where the money for raises would come from in the county budget. And Supervisor Bob Camicia said he believed any raise that would commit the county to ongoing expense should be weighed during the regular budgeting process.
County Administrator Rick Huff told the supervisors he believed the county's financial situation could allow a small raise or one-time bonus and agreed to return Oct. 16 with numbers for the board to review.
Franklin County has 314 full-time employees and about 100 part time. When the 2011-12 school year began Franklin County Public Schools had more than 1,200 employees, according to Janet Stockton, a spokeswoman for the division. She did not have the latest numbers as of Wednesday afternoon.
Vincent Copenhaver, the county's director of finance, responded in an email Wednesday to the question about where the county might find money to fund a raise or one-time bonus.
"Our collection percentage on real estate and personal property taxes was stronger than anticipated last fiscal year, which will give us a little cushion this year," Copenhaver said. "Local sales tax and meals tax collections are also slightly ahead of budgetary projections."
He said a one-time bonus could be paid from the county's fund balance, which he said is "currently more than the Government Finance Officers Association recommended amount of two months of general fund operating revenues."
In other business before the board Tuesday:
>> Supervisors approved the sale of the 30,000-square-foot building that once housed Serenity House Cabinets on Franklin Street in Ferrum and an accompanying 5-acre parcel to Raymond Gaubatz for $250,000. Gaubatz plans to expand Gaubatz Painting and anticipates adding about 10 jobs in the years ahead. The county, which purchased the property this summer for about $250,000, retained a 2-acre parcel for solid waste collection and recycling.
>> Lois Slotnick continued her campaign to save the Boones Mill railroad depot from demolition by asking supervisors to phone Wick Moorman, chairman, president and chief executive officer for Norfolk Southern Corp., to ask him to allow the depot to remain where it is, on railroad property. The railroad has agreed to donate the vacant building but only if it is moved to another site. Building Official Peter Ahrens said Tuesday he is still reviewing a demolition permit application submitted Sept. 13 by a contractor for Norfolk Southern. He said he has requested additional information.
>> Ahrens briefed supervisors about how permit and inspection fees might be adjusted or increased to help move the building inspections department in the direction of being more self-supporting financially. Supervisors set a related public hearing for Oct. 16. The department's fees covered about 53 percent of related expenses during fiscal 2012, Ahrens said. The proposed changes would cover about 85 percent of related expenses using fiscal 2012 expenses and permit data, he said.
>> Beau Blevins, director of intergovernmental affairs for the Virginia Association of Counties, presented Franklin County with a 2012 Achievement Award in recognition of the interactive budget website it launched in December to help residents track the annual budgeting process.
>> Supervisors authorized advertising a public hearing for Oct. 16 related to the repeal of a county ordinance adopted in March 1981 that prohibits possession of firearms while attending music or entertainment festivals. The ordinance conflicts with a state law that sets some limits on local government control of firearms.