Harrison Co supervisor: Selective raises damage employee morale - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Harrison Co supervisor: Selective raises damage employee morale

HARRISON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) -

By Steve Phillips – bio | email

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - A personnel change involving a maintenance worker sparked a lively debate about budget concerns at Monday's Harrison County Board of Supervisors meeting.

Board President Connie Rockco said the county needs to face-up to a worsening financial situation.

Supervisor Marlin Ladner said the morale of county employees is being hurt by "manipulating" county funds to give selective pay raises.

The vigorous budget debate began when supervisors were asked to okay a seemingly simple employment change.

County administrator Pam Ulrich recommended approval of an employee transfer from groundskeeper at the Gulfport courthouse, to groundskeeper and maintenance man at the Biloxi courthouse. That move comes with a salary increase and that pay hike sparked the budget debate.

"We're in a bad situation in the United States and in Harrison County and we've got to start facing it," said Board President Connie Rockco.

"We all understand the situation," said Supervisor William Martin, "But you're still talking about a situation where ultimately we are saving money with this particular move. Now that's the bottom line on that."

The move in question promotes a county groundskeeper to groundskeeper and maintenance man; with an accompanying pay raise.

"There are people doing a lot of additional work that have not been getting pay raises. And it's not fair to give one a pay raise or two or three a pay raise because they're doing some additional work when others sitting out there have not gotten those pay raises," said Supervisor Marlin Ladner.

"No, but I'm sure there's other people who have been elevated into slots that have been open too," County Administrator Pam Ulrich responded.

"We dipped in one million dollars into our reserves so that we could make budget for everybody. And we didn't give raises to county employees," said Rockco. "Now we've got to start looking at our budget and look at it very seriously."

"I'm not saying we shouldn't look at our budget. But you just can't conclude that every time a position becomes vacant, that you just can't fill that position," said Supervisor Martin.

Harrison County Chancery Clerk John McAdams confirmed the supervisors' budget concerns.  He reported how tax shortfalls are compounding the budget problems. For starters, car tag collections are down eight percent.

"You have a 24 percent decrease in gaming funds you're receiving. And your homestead is down 19 percent," reported McAdams.

Supervisor Ladner pleaded for some consistency.

"Not give some people pay raises when others are being denied. And manipulating the salaries and the money so these same persons can get a pay raise. It's not fair. It damages the morale of all our employees," he said.

The personnel issue that sparked all that budget talk was eventually approved on a 3-to-2 vote by supervisors. Supervisors Connie Rockco and Marlin Ladner both voted no.

Supervisor Ladner made a motion to give all county employees a three percent pay increase, but that motion died for lack of a second.

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