Itawamba rejects unapproved raises

FULTON – The Itawamba County Board of Supervisors has directed the chancery clerk to deny paying county employees any amount of money beyond what they made last year.
The move was in response to a series of raises distributed by department heads. Raises affected specific employees within the sheriff’s department and tax assessor’s office.
According to the board, these changes directly contradicted budgeting decisions for the 2010-2011 fiscal year.
“We’ve got department heads who have been given a budget … a budget in which everything was left exactly how it was last year,” board President Danny Holley explained, adding that the board both discussed and denied adding the usual 3 percent raises for its employees in light of a tight budget.
Although the board can specifically dictate whether or not county employees receive pay increases and sets the amount of money each department is allotted every year, supervisors have limited control over how a department spends its budget. Each department has so much money budgeted for employee pay. The question is whether or not the board should and can dictate how department heads spend that money.
“If a department head wants to give ‘x’ number of dollars to an employee while taking ‘x’ number from another employee, they can do that as long as they stay within the budget,” Holley said.
The board does, however, have control over the distribution of payroll checks. So, rather than denying the pay increases themselves, the board chose to direct the payroll clerk to deny distribution of these increased paychecks.
“I don’t have a problem with anybody getting raises,” County Administrator Gary Franks said. “But, when you as a board set a precedent and then a department head turns right around and goes against it, what does that do for morale?”

Contact Adam Armour at (662) 862-3141 or adam.armour@journalinc.com.

The Itawamba County Times