CLEARWATER – Pinellas County’s full-time employees, who work for the Unified Personnel System, soon will be receiving a check for $1,200 thanks to the Commission’s approval on Sept. 18.
They’ll also get 24 hours of administrative leave to use during fiscal year 2012-2013.
Commissioners approved, 6-1, the lump sum cost of living wage disbursement. Commissioner Nancy Bostock voted no. She did join with the others for unanimous approval of 24 extra paid hours off in the coming year that begins Oct. 1.
“I’d love to support our employees,” Bostock said. “But I have serious concerns about taking the money out of reserves. I’m OK with the time off.”
Bostock asked that the question be split into two parts – the money and the time – to give her an opportunity to “vote yes on the leave.”
Estimated cost of the supplemental pay is $3.5 million. County Administrator Bob LaSala suggests taking the money from the Service Level Stabilization Account, which was built up to help bridge the budget gap as the economy began to level out – stabilize.
Commissioner Karen Seel pointed out that 60 percent of the county’s employees make less than $50,000.
“They’re not getting enriched by serving the public,” she said.
County employees haven’t had a pay raise in four years and some have gone five years without a bump in pay. The notion came up to provide the supplemental pay at the Sept. 6 meeting after news got out that the sheriff was giving his employees extra pay.
The commission conceded they needed to do something for the rest of county employees. The extra pay and time off does not apply to elected officials.
All full time employees on active status who have been employed at least one year as of Oct. 30 will receive the one-time check of $1,200 and 24 hours leave. Part time employees will receive a pro-rated share based on the number of hours they work.
Commissioner Norm Roche brought up the subject of fairness and asked if administrators could be flexible in giving out the extra money. He brought up employees who had worked one year and only one or two days more. LaSala said personnel rules would take care of those situations.
Bostock said she understood and was concerned that county employees have not had a raise in four or five years.
“A lot of people in the community are in the same place,” she said.
She suggested that employee pay be discussed during the budget process next year. LaSala said since the sheriff was required to negotiate labor contracts each year, he would be at a disadvantage at the bargaining table if he talked about changed in employee compensation as part of his budget request.
“It could put him in a difficult position,” LaSala said.
“But there has to be a way to avoid this difficult situation,” Commission Chair John Morroni said.