Harrison Co. supervisors discuss pay hike for county employees

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Harrison County supervisors all agree they'd like to give county employees a pay hike. Those workers haven't had a raise in seven years. But finances remain tight.

Both those issues sparked some debate and disagreement Monday morning among county supervisors as they considered the new budget.

"I'm simply pointing out that our employees have been taking a beating for the past seven years," said Supervisor Marlin Ladner, who made a motion to give county employees a four percent raise next year.

He said while supervisors are often quick to give industries tax exemptions, the county workers are overlooked.

"And then we're telling our employees for the past seven years, we can't seem to come up with a raise for you. And they're suffering as well as everyone else. We seem to give tax exemptions, but we can't give pay raises," said Ladner.

"I'm here to try to balance a budget," said Supervisor Windy Swetman.

He said a pay hike doesn't make good fiscal sense after department heads were ordered to curb spending.

"To cut a budget five percent, to only come back and give pay raises and increase a budget four percent, to me that is absolutely, completely not on the table," said Swetman.

Board president William Martin echoed those concerns.

"All that sounds good. But it still ain't gonna work. I'd love to give a pay raise too. There are a lot of things I would like to see the county consider doing. But if it's not there, it's not there," said Board President Martin.

"I tend to agree that if we're going to stay in here and take away on one side and give back on the other side, it just doesn't make sense," said Supervisor Connie Rockco.

"I think this board needs to give our employees at least a four percent increase," said Ladner.

The pay raise motion was defeated 3-to-2. Supervisor Kim Savant joined supervisor Ladner in supporting the motion. Supervisors Martin, Rockco and Swetman voted against.

Harrison County supervisors are expected to adopt the new budget on September 10th.

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