Our view: Lowndes County Commissioners make tough call on county pay raises

Published 12:00 pm Thursday, September 22, 2022

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In a Lowndes County Commission meeting held Sept. 12, the commissioners voted 3-2 to approve a pay raise proposal, a part of the Commission’s annual budget.

The decision effectively gave county employees a $1.50 raise per hour across the board as well as a one-time bonus of $2,500 to be included in their upcoming payroll checks.

This proposed pay raise prevailed over another proposal to increase wages by $3 per hour.

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Commissioners Charlie King Jr., Dickson Farrior, and Joseph Bargainer supported the $1.50 raise proposal, while Commissioners Robert Harris and Joshua Simmons sought the $3 raise.

The decision to go with the $1.50 raise proved to be an unpopular one with the county’s road department, with some even going as far as protesting in favor of the higher rate.

On one hand, it is understandable for employees in a specialized field to want to be paid what they feel they are worth, but the Commission, as a whole, has an obligation to make financial decisions in the best interests of the entirety of the county.

Working in the road department is a challenge within itself, particularly in a time where needed repairs seem endless, the funds to get the jobs done are not plentiful, and no matter what decision is made, there are people who are going to feel slighted because their road wasn’t repaired fast enough or even considered.

Rural infrastructure needs continue to be a challenge to and for our road department members and our Commissioners. We certainly don’t envy the dilemma they face when they have to make these difficult, but needed, decisions.

After considering both proposals, we see them as essentially the same. All that said, there’s not much difference in the two pay proposals. One opts to put cash in employees’ hands quicker by paying them a bonus, while the $3 raise proposal gives a steady increase over time.

When we multiply an additional $1.50 per hour raise times 40 hours in a workweek, then multiply the result by 52 weeks in a year, the result comes to $3,120 dollars. After making an allowance for payroll taxes and then adding in the bonus, it brings the net annual gain relatively close to what the $3 per hour raise would net out after payroll taxes.

We hope each side can come to an agreement that makes everyone happy, but also realize this decision comes with mixed feelings from those who favor one proposal over the other.