During the past several Helena-West Helena City Council sessions, district court clerks Shay Shields, Linda Hayden and Carlos Spencer presented the council a requested salary adjustment that was reportedly promised through a pay raise documented back in November 2012.
Shields, Hayden, and Spencer stated that they signed a document stating a pay increase would be effective January 1 2013 and were receiving the increase from the date stipulated through February 1.
“We want to know why our pay raises were taken off of our checks,” commented Hayden.
According to Hayden the clerks were to follow the chain of command with supervisor Deon Carter and Mayor Arnell Willis to get their raises back but stated that they were informed that there was a problem with the raises because the documentation they signed was not authorized by the proper signatures.
At the August 6 council session, the council requested the clerks present documented payroll changes. The clerks presented copies of their pay stubs showing figures that reflected the higher pay compared to what they were being paid before the beginning of the year.
“I stated the last time. First of all you can't do no defacto raise and I don't understand how Ms. Carter can do a raise without the proper process, without the right individuals knowing,” commented Willis.
Council members stated that on the documents presented to the body, there wasn't even a signature space provided for the mayor.
“Whose form is this? Is this the city's form?” asked council member Monica Davis.
Willis said by policy of Little Rock auditors, you can't just automatically do raises without the proper signatures.
“If this is a city issued form and you are supposed to sign this, then there should be a slot for you,” Davis stated to Willis.
The documents given to the council showed that Marilyn Koontz, human resource officer, made the authorization, from which the council determined the raise to be approved.
Davis stated that following the previous council session, Shields, Spencer and she had to sign another documented form that Wednesday morning and confirmed that this time it was stamped. Councilman Christopher Franklin stated that the mayor had no knowledge about the pay raise but stated that Deon Carter was given a pay increase without having to go before the council.
“Carter's salary has two components to it and a judge had to authorize that,” corrected Willis.
City Clerk Sandi Ramsey stated that according to the print out that was provided to the council, one individual took their salary and their rate per hour and reported that there was no change as of October 7 of last year.
“Technically they never got a raise because all rates reflected that of the base pay,” commented Ramsey.
Page 2 of 2 - Shields commented that they are not aware of who the human resource officer is because they have been “boom- a- ranged” from Koontz to Chief of Staff Allan Martin.
Martin stated that the budget outlined by Carter indicated no increases in the budget. Furthermore, Martin stated that he checked each one of the individual's hourly pay from pre-2013 to February 2013 and found no evidence that any pay changes occurred. Martin clarified that just because it is put on their time sheet that they are making so much an hour that is not necessarily what is in the accounting system.
“I am in charge of checking every time sheets except for the publishing report to Ms. Ramsey,” confirmed Martin.
Councilman Don Etherly questioned the hiring freeze.
“We have a hiring freeze that was put in place over a year ago, yet we see people being hired that are not approved by this council,” he pointed out. “People are receiving raises all the time that are not approved by this council. Why do we have principals on this issue? When did we decide to have principals on this issue now?” asked Etherly.
Etherly questioned whose decision is it to give out pay raises.
Franklin informed the council that the court clerks are not receiving what is in the budget and this is the problem that has presented itself previously to the council. “We passed a budget that people don't actually know what they are getting. Their base pay may be $17,000 but if you don't look at the department line by line item, then you won't know,” he said.
“So none of you are making what is in the budget right now?” asked councilwoman Wanda Crockett.
“No ma'am we are not,” replied Hayden
Councilman John Huff insisted that Carter got a raise, not authorized by the council body, as a department head, when in fact she is not considered a department head. Huff questioned as to whether or not the pay increase was received, to the clerks' knowledge, and detailed in their pay stubs.
“We received three checks from January 1 through February 1,” stated Hayden.
Carter is expected to attend regular city council session on Sept 10 to continue the discussion on possible adjustments with the mayor and the city council.