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County employees could see bonuses

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By Lou Elliott Jones

editor@chieflandcitizen.com

Full-time county workers who have not received a pay increase in five years may get a little something in their paycheck before Thanksgiving: a $600 bonus check.

The down side is they will have to look in their department’s budget to find the cash. 

Levy County Commissioner Ryan Bell of Chiefland (R-District 4) proposed the bonus during Tuesday’s regular meeting. It was well received by the commissioners, but the holdup came with a question over whether 3 percent would be deducted for the state retirement fund. County Attorney Anne Bast Brown was asked to find out whether state law would require the deduction and early indication is that it will not. 

No vote was taken on Tuesday and the matter will come up again at the commission’s Nov. 6 meeting. 

The raise, which includes employees working for constitutional officers, would go to 386 workers and cost $289,364.

“Being as it is the first year we actually cut benefits,” Bell said. “I think we should give back a little to our employees and staff.” He said county workers had done a good job of cutting back the budget when requested to do so this year. “I see this as an incentive to keep the budget low, cause it’s coming out of your budget,” Bell told department heads and Sheriff Johnny Smith, who attended the meeting.

Bell said he was suggesting the one-time payment “so this doesn’t obligate us” to future payments the way a pay raise would.

“This wasn’t budgeted for so there will be a need for a budget amendment,” said County Coordinator Fred Moody. He said the county financial staff would have to know about the bonus by Nov. 6 in order to include it in paychecks before Thanksgiving, which falls on Nov. 25 this year.

 

Meeting about bonuses set

The Levy County Commission’s plan to give a one-time payment to county workers — who last received a pay raise in 2006 — has run into some snags that will require the commission hold a special meeting on Halloween, Wednesday, Oct. 31, at 11 a.m.

Commissioner Ryan Bell of Chiefland (R-District 4), who proposed a one-time incentive or bonus for full-time county workers at an Oct. 16 meeting, said the commissioners need to discuss some limitations the staff found on such payments. 

“And we can’t talk without a public meeting,” Bell said in a phone interview on Monday. 

Bell said there are statutory requirements and qualifications that must be met to pay the bonus to all full-time employees. 

Bell proposed the one-time payment as a way to thank employees for their work in cutting this year’s 2012-2013 budget to $61,235.783.

Bell proposed that the funds for the raises come from the budget already approved. County Coordinator Fred Moody said if the budgets needed to be adjusted to cover the payments they could be.