Like their city counterparts, county employees also are facing difficult economic times. While Phillips County workers are not currently facing the prospects of not receiving a paycheck at all, it appears all hope for any pay increases is a distant dream.
Two employees approached the quorum court Tuesday night concerning possible raises. According to Freda Reynolds of the County Clerk's Office, it has been four years since county employees had received any kind of a pay raise.
“As you all know, the cost of living has increased dramatically during those four years,” she said.
In 2010 and 2011, the quorum court proposed giving county workers what they called a $2,000 pay incentive. According to one quorum court member a pay incentive is actually a one-time bonus that the county is not obligated to pay if the funds were not available.
“We realize these are tough economic times,” commented Reynolds. “And we know that you cannot give us a pay raise without an ordinance. We just want you to keep us in mind when the money is there.”
“There's a question we must keep asking ourselves,” commented Brenda Martin of the County Road Department. “Just how long can we continue to support our families on our current salaries? I paid $2.79 for a head of lettuce last week.”
“We all know that the county workers are not getting what they deserve,” stated Quorum Court member C.L. Walker. “We're in bad shape financially.”
“The money is going out but not coming in,” commented Justice Tommy Young.
“If we give someone more money, we're just going to have to lay someone else off,” added Walker.
JP Teresa Morgan called the employee's financial plight a “dire situation.”
“I don't know how some of them are going to make it through the rest of the year,” she said.
County Judge Don Gentry pointed out that the jail budget would fall $250,000 short even if there were no repairs.
“Before we spend anywhere else, we need to help our employees,” stressed Morgan.
IN OTHER BUSINESS, the JPs gave the green light to Treasurer Becky Gattas to pursue a grant for a county Website. Gattas said there was no expense to the county but she needed quorum court approval.
“If we don't sign the contract before the end of the month we will lose the grant money,” said Gattas. “It is a win-win situation for the county.”
The justices took no action on a proposition by Phillips County constables. Speaking on behalf of the constables, Mal Stokes offered the constables services as uniformed armed security at regular quorum court meetings at a rate of $50 per month at a projected cost of $600 per constable.
In a telephone call Wednesday morning following the session, Gentry simply stated, “There is no money available.”
Page 2 of 2 - The JPs did approve three appropriation ordinances amending funds for the county clerk, coroner, court automation, county judge, juvenile probation, two public defender positions and county rural fire departments.