WINFIELD, W.Va. -- Putnam County commissioners expressed frustration Tuesday over raises that county Assessor Sherry Troyer Hayes gave employees in her office.
Even though they admit what Hayes did was perfectly legal, commissioners said the move could be frowned upon by other county employees.
"Our challenge is to keep pay equitable," Commissioner Joe Haynes said. "When something like this is done it skews everything."
The raises Hayes handed out ranged from 5 percent to nearly 8 percent and were in addition to the 1.25 percent pay raise county commissioners handed out at the beginning of the fiscal year.
Commissioners have traditionally approved a 2.5 percent employee pay raise but scaled back this year because of a troubled economy.
Brian Donat, county manager, said Hayes handed out about $36,000 in raises to her 19 employees.
Hayes said in a telephone interview that she didn't do anything another department head wouldn't have done if they had the money. She also noted she still has about $15,000 left in her budget. Donat said it's unusual for department heads to use 100 percent of their budget.
Hayes explained that she believed she could afford the raises after two women in her office retired, requiring others to take on additional responsibilities.
"I felt like since I had the money, everyone deserved a raise," she said. "To me it was a win-win situation."
Commissioner Steve Andes warned that in the past when department heads have approved their own raises, commissioners would strip them of the annual raise they normally grant.
Hayes said she and her employees understood that.
Hayes recently won re-election against her former boss, D.W. "Peachie" Arthur, who served as assessor in Putnam from 1997 through 2008. During the campaign, Arthur accused Hayes of playing favorites after the 2008 election by handing out raises to employees who supported her election bid.