A proposed wage classification plan would end across-the-board raises to county employees and require supervisor evaluations.

On Oct. 1, county legal advisor Lucille Turner of the Carson and Adkins law firm, presented commissioners with a plan to formally classify county employees and set standardized wage increases based on seniority and performance.

The county commission has yet to plug in numbers to the wage classifications and is expected to consider adoption of the plan in the weeks ahead.

Turner said the new plan applies only to employees of the county commission, such as the road department and solid waste, but hoped constitutional officers would follow the county lead in adopting new rules.

Turner said she did not focus on the rules adopted by other counties in creating the guidelines. “You’re not losing people or having trouble recruiting,” she said, “So we must be doing some things right.”

She pointed out that county employees’ salaries are based largely on seniority, and that under the proposed system, employees could keep their years of service when moving from job to job as an incentive to remain with the county.

She said the proposed rules would not be a part of standing county policy because the rules would be reviewed every year when the budget is being prepared.

Under the proposed system, all employees are classified under one of 35 job titles. The county keeps the right to create new positions as needed.

Employees would also be grouped into pay grades. Anyone having worked less than six months would be considered a “probationary trainee.”

At six months an employees is reclassified as Grade I, the base pay rate, after successfully completing a supervisor evaluation.

Employees would be eligible for a hike to Grade II after two years of work and a successful evaluation. They can seek further pay raises after five years and after each additional five-year period of service up to Grade VII following 30 successful years of employment. If an employee fails to successfully pass an evaluation, his or her raise could be postponed and a salary decrease could result from a disciplinary demotion.

Chairman Cheryl Sanders praised the plan. “This is something we could go by that there wouldn’t be a fight every budget cycle. This will end across-the-board raises and take that battle out of the budget.”

Assistant Finance Officer Erin Griffith said the plan would simplify preparation of the budget. “When we go into the budget process, salary would be known based on record,” she said.

Commissioner Smokey Parrish said the system would encourage employees to cross train and learn new skills to advance.

 “I think it’s a good thing myself, a more equitable and fairer way of doing it,” said Sanders. “Policy says what policy says. Lucy, this is what we want to do. Now let’s plug in the real numbers.”

Sanders said she wanted to see increased education for department heads. Commissioner Pinki Jackel suggested Turner develop formal evaluation sheets for each position.

Sanders asked Turner to include more specifics about evaluations in the proposal and return to the next county meeting with the altered plan. Commissioners voted unanimously to have her do so.