CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Kanawha County commissioners Kent Carper, Dave Hardy and Hoppy Shores approved $330,000 in raises Tuesday they hope will be used to raise the salaries of the county's lowest-paid employees.
Carper originally proposed giving each of the county's six elected offices $51,500 each to pass out raises, knowing that offices with more employees would get less for each employee than offices with fewer employees.
The proposal was meant to help out Circuit Clerk Cathy Gatson and County Clerk Vera McCormick the most. Both have some of the lowest-paid employees in the courthouse.
But the flat figure resulted in odd percentage raises for each elected office. Hardy issued a counterproposal that evened out the percentages while still helping lower-paid employees.
"The greatest needs are the county clerk and the circuit clerk's office," Hardy agreed. He proposed giving Gatson and McCormick's offices a 5 percent salary budget increase, the assessor's office 3 percent and the prosecutor, county commission office and sheriff's department 2.5 percent. Total cost of the increases is about $330,000, compared with about $310,000 for Carper's proposal.
The math on the budget increases works out to about $57,000 for the circuit clerk's office, about $60,000 for the county clerk's office and prosecutor's office, about $50,000 for the county commission office, about $47,000 for the assessor's office and about $57,000 for the sheriff's department.
But commissioners knew the arrangement would mean far lower raises for the sheriff's department, which has 200 employees, compared with the circuit clerk's office, which has about 40. Gatson and McCormick have been saying for several years that their lowest-paid employees deserve more money.
"Your argument never fell on deaf ears," Carper told the circuit clerk. "That's what I meant to do, and that's why I did it."
Elected officials are autonomous and can spend their salary line items any way they want, but commissioners hope they will use the money to bring up their lowest salaries.
Sheriff Johnny Rutherford isn't particularly happy about the idea, but county commissioners are also increasing longevity pay for deputies. County Manager Jennifer Sayre said longevity amounts will double from $300 to $600 after a deputy has been on the job for five years.
County employees got a $1,000 across-the-board raise last year, the first countywide raise in five years.
Reach Rusty Marks at rustyma...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1215.