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In a specially called meeting of the Union County Quorum Court finance committee yesterday, a motion carried to present an ordinance to the full quorum court which would give every county employee a 3 percent raise.

The meeting was called after the last quorum court meeting, when Justices of the Peace began discussing raises for county employees. Department heads of county agencies attended yesterday’s meeting with breakdowns of their respective departments’ employees and their hourly and annual wages.

Sheriff Ricky Roberts addressed the committee in favor of raises for county employees. He said he has lost employees throughout the years to some of the local industry, who can pay wages as high as $25 per hour.

“It’s our low end [on the pay scale] people that really [are] what we need to look at,” Roberts said. “We need to try to keep some of these people … Before a deputy hits the street in Union County, we’ve already got about $5,000 [invested] in him.”

Roberts explained that it takes about $5,000 to train, gear up and prepare deputies to do their jobs. He said that if a deputy quits within a year, the Sheriff’s Office has essentially lost that investment.

Prosecutor for the 13th Judicial District Jeffrey Rogers also spoke at the meeting. He told committee members a job at the Prosecutor’s office had been open for over a year and in that time had only had one applicant, who did not accept the job when it was offered to her.

“She’d rather work part time doing what she was doing than take the pay cut,” Rogers said.

Other department heads said they could not find qualified applicants for open positions due to low pay. Committee member Mike Dumas said the county will never be able to compete with some of the high-paying jobs local industries can offer, though he noted that giving employees raises could incentivize more good work from them.

“A three percent raise is better than nothing,” Dumas said. Committee members Cecil Polk and Johnny Burson agreed.

“All jobs deserve respect,” Burson said. “We need to do everything we can.”

“I agree with Johnny,” Polk said. “If we’re okay [on funds] at this point … we’ve got to give our employees some incentive.”

Committee member Dean Storey moved to consider a 3 percent raise at the next meeting of the full quorum court. The motion was seconded. The quorum court will consider the issue at their next meeting, which will take place next Thursday at 10 a.m. in the Quorum Court room at the Union County Courthouse.

If the ordinance passes, the quorum court will also need to decide whether the raises will be retroactively implemented to start on Jan. 1 or if they will be effective immediately following the ordinance’s passage.

Caitlan Butler can be reached at 870-862-6611 or cbutler@eldoradonews.com.

CORRECTION

An earlier version of this article used an incorrect title for Jeffrey Rogers, who is the prosecutor for the 13th Judicial District.

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