While county police officers will have to wait a little longer for a significant pay increase, the board was able to help the Rome-Floyd Parks and Recreation Authority.
During the caucus session before the public meeting, Commissioners added back into the budget $75,000 that had been cut from the recreation fund, and removed a tentative $125,000 earmark that would have covered a pay hike for police officers.
The final budget also included a one-time, lump sum payment for all full-time and permanent part-time county employees. Distribution will be by a formula that takes into account years of service.
“I think that this is a great budget, considering the hard economic times,” Commission Chairman Irwin Bagwell said. “We’re struggling with low revenue but we don’t want to raise taxes, so we’re making do with what we have coming in.”
Bagwell said he was pleased that they were able to compensate long-time county employees. No raises have been awarded in four years.
“They deserve it and we value the time that they’ve spent with the county,” Bagwell said.
Interim County Manager Gary Burkhalter said that there is no time frame as to when the one-time payment will be made, but he expects it to be in the near future.
A gap of $752,305 in expenses over projected revenue in the budget will be made up by pulling from the county’s savings. The transfer is smaller than what was proposed in earlier drafts.
The inclusion of larger pay increases for county police officers in earlier drafts of the budget was done because a significant percentage of sworn officers have been leaving for higher-paying positions in surrounding counties.
Commissioners said they are not abandoning the issue and will revisit the subject of pay increases once a subcommittee reviews the matter and proposes a more concrete amount for them to approve.
Burkhalter said they would then look at the funding available for the hike.
Several Floyd County deputies and jail employees attended the meeting, along with Sheriff Tim Burkhalter and Chief Deputy Tom Caldwell.
“We appreciate everyone being here and showing your support,” Commissioner Rhonda Wallace said. “We appreciate the protection and the job you do, and we will continue to look at ways to increase your salary.”
The decision to reverse the proposed cut to recreation came after the board discussed the situation with the RFPRA’s fund reserves. Interim County Manager Gary Burkhalter said that it appeared the RFPRA will use nearly all of its reserve once they close out their 2012 books.
“They would not be able to absorb the reduction in funding without a reduction in service,” he said.
However, he told the board a $75,000 cut in funding for the Rome-Floyd County Library and a $100,000 cut to the Floyd County Health Department could both be offset by each organization’s reserves.