By Ken de la Bastide
The Herald Bulletin
---- — ANDERSON — For the first time since 2006 full-time employees of Madison County will be receiving a little bit more in their paychecks for this year.
The Madison County Council recently voted to approve a $500 bonus for full-time employees who have been working for the county for at least 90 days.
The bonus is to be paid by the end of the year, Council President John Bostic said Wednesday.
“The employees have not received a pay raise since 2006,” he said. “We have a healthy general fund balance.”
Employees not paid from the county’s general fund will receive the $500 from the respective departmental budgets, Bostic said.
The council approved the bonus by a 5-2 vote with Republicans David McCartney and Rick Gardner casting the no votes. Republican Lisa Phillips voted yes with the four Democratic members.
Elected officials, deputy prosecutors and public defenders will not receive the bonus.
Jane Lyons, Madison County auditor, said the bonus amount from the county’s general fund will be approximately $225,000. The county has an operating balance of $6.5 million.
Lyons said the council has approved a 3 percent salary increase for all full-time employees in 2014. Elected officials will not receive the increase.
She said it has been several years since county employees received a pay hike. Lyons said employees receive a longevity bonus of $75 per year of service which is capped at 25 years or a maximum of $1,875.
Council action to provide the bonus came despite not getting the endorsement of the Madison County commissioners.
John Richwine, president of the Board of County Commissioners, said the commissioners didn’t recommend the 2013 bonus, but did recommend the 3 percent increase for 2014.
“The council took the money from the operating balance,” he said. “We were concerned about taking the money from that fund for the bonus.”
Richwine said the county has held the line on spending in recent years and is coming off a few good years.
The employee’s share of paying for health insurance has not been increased in recent years, Richwine said. He said the concern is those costs will rise in the future and the employees will be asked to pay a higher premium amount.
“We would have preferred to err on the side of caution,” Richwine said. “We want to be able to help the employees in the future on health insurance costs.”
Anderson Mayor Kevin Smith said city employees are not likely to see a pay increase until 2015 after the Anderson City Council rejected the city’s 2014 budget proposal.
During Smith’s first term as mayor in 2004 the employees did receive a pay increase.
“The city was then on a sound fiscal path,” he said Wednesday. “However, about four years ago, 34 new police and fire department employees were hired. Their average cost to the taxpayers is about $81,000 per year. That added a tax burden of about $2.7 million. We’re still trying to dig ourselves out of that fiscal hole.”