Commission gives employees $1-per-hour across the board raise
Updated: Jul 7
MOUND CITY – Over the past couple of years a shortage of workers across the country and even locally have given the workforce more clout in demanding higher wages and better benefits. That has manifested itself in more workers seeking higher paying jobs.
Linn County officials have expressed increased concern over the past few months that county employees have been a target for other employers. And while the Linn County Commission has discussed ways to stop experienced workers from leaving, it hasn't taken decisive action to stop it.
That changed on Monday, March 20, the commission voted 2 to 1 to give all the Linn County employees, except themselves, a $1-per-hour base pay increase. Commissioner Jim Johnson voted against the measure.
The commissioners discussed how this increase could be covered. The money in the general fund from the payments paid to the jail for housing inmates was the main source for this year.
Johnson expressed concern that while that was available this year, the county needed a long-term funding source to cover the salaries in the future.
Johnson said that he would like to see the money that the jail was bringing in now be used to pay off the interest on the bonds on the jail. He said that he would like to make sure that this increase was covered for next year.
He also said that he did not like making a change like this in the middle of a budget year.
Commission Chair Danny McCullough was concerned that, if the county did not give increases to employees now, it would be harder to keep employees and add to the staff at the jail. If the sheriff was not able to increase the staff, McCullough said, the potential for the jail to make more money was not possible.
McCullough said that he would like to go over every budget that the county gives money to this year at budget time. He thought that money could be found that way to cover the added expense for next year.
Earlier this year Sheriff Kevin Friend said that the contract with the U.S. Marshal’s service was for up to 40 inmates. Right now, the commissioners noted that there were 15 federal inmates in the jail.
Friend said previously that the U.S. Marshal’s Service could supply them with that many inmates right now, but he was waiting until staffing increased at the jail.
Commissioner Jason Hightower, who wants to do a survey of employees about job satisfaction, said that the dollar an hour would at least show a good faith effort to employees that the commission heard their concerns about a salary increase.
Hightower said he would also like some of the income from the jail go to paying off the bond interest.
The $1 per hour base pay increase was suggested as an example by County Clerk David Lamb at the March 13 meeting. Lamb said this would help the employees at the bottom of the pay scale more.
Lamb also said if the county gave a percentage increase across the board, it would give the top-paid employees more money. That would increase the gap between the top and bottom pay scales.