Pay increases for county employees, new hires and no change in tax rates for most York County residents are highlights of the county’s budget proposal.
County staff offered its version of the county’s 2012-2013 budget at York County Council’s Monday night meeting in York. The council unanimously voted to give the first of three approvals needed to enact the budget. It includes an $86.2 million general fund budget, about $2 million more in operational costs than last year.
Wednesday the Council will hold a workshop where County Manager Jim Baker will provide an overview and some department heads will give input. There also will be a public hearing later this month.
County staff has recommended reclassifying 23 employees which will result in pay increases totaling $119,252, according to a memo Baker provided to the council. A 3 percent pay for performance raise also is on the table along with a recommendation that no full-time employee with a favorable review will receive less than $1,000 salary increase.
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The proposed raises are affordable, Baker said to the council in the memo, but staff will continue to explore other options with the council’s input, he said.
County employees haven’t received any raises since October 2008. Last year, the council rejected pay increases in the budget. Led by Councilman Bump Roddey, some council members tried without success to implement a one-time incentive payment for employees at the end of the year.
Opponents of the raises, including Chairman Britt Blackwell, said the timing was wrong because many taxpayers were facing higher tax bills resulting from the county’s reassessment of property values, a process that the state mandates for tax purposes every five years.
On Monday Blackwell expressed support for employee raises, saying he’d originally thought to give a 1 percent increase for all employees and a 2 percent merit raise, but said he’s open to staff’s recommendation.
Councilman Bruce Henderson, also an opponent in last year’s budget talks, said the council will “be more friendly toward the pay raise this time.”
“We appreciate (staff members’) loyalty,” he said.
Also in the proposed budget are new positions equal to 5.75 full-time positions out of 45.1 positions requested from departments. The positions include changing some part-time positions to full-time, reinstating a long vacant fire marshal position and adding an animal control officer, detention center sergeant and veterans affairs specialist. Another 7.75 positions in the sheriff’s, solicitor’s and engineering departments may also be approved if alternative funding is available.
In the proposal, some fire districts will see changes in tax rates. Residents of the Bethel Fire District will see a slight drop in their tax rate.
Flint Hill, Lesslie and Newport fire districts will see slight increases to cover costs of paid firefighters or planned expansions. Property taxes on owner-occupied homes valued at $100,000 will increase 40 cents in Lesslie and 80 cents in Flint Hill and Newport. The highest increases will be in Flint Hill and Newport where a $500,000 commercial property will see an increase of $6.
The council also will receive suggestions for increases in water and sewer rates, which haven’t changed in several years.
Tax increases in 2014
In recent years, the county has anticipated drawing from reserves to make up for revenue shortfalls, but has fared better than expected. That trend likely will continue, Baker said.
But the county will likely need a slight tax rate increase in 2014 to meet the county’s debt obligations, capital needs, and as the cost of serving the county’s growing population increases, he said.