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Salary request prompts look at county's scale

November 22, 2002|by CANDICE BOSELY

martinsburg@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - A routine hiring recommendation during Thursday's Berkeley County Commission meeting turned into a discussion about the county's salary scale, with one commissioner saying he hopes to give all employees a pay raise and wants to look into conducting employee performance reviews.

The discussion started when Assessor Evelyn Fink asked for the commission's approval to hire a clerk at step eight on a clerk's pay scale, or $19,140 a year.

Two commissioners said step three, or $15,840, was the highest they would permit, saying to go higher would set a precedent. The commission has never given a starting employee anything higher than step three, Commissioner Robert Burkhart said.

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"If we do this for one, we have to do it for everybody," Burkhart said. "(We'll have to) throw the book out the window."

Fink argued with them, saying the prospective employee could do the work of two people, thereby saving the county a second salary.

It's a different situation, she said.

"Everybody in every office has a different situation. We've heard it all," Burkhart said.

Burkhart and Commission President Howard Strauss voted to hire the clerk at a step three salary. Commissioner John Wright voted against it.

"I think the department heads know what their people are worth," Wright said, adding that it may be difficult to support a family on $14,000 or $15,000 a year.

The county's pay scale was approved in 1994, and has been changed 13 times since, said County Administrator Deborah Hammond.

Although Strauss said he feels the current, full-time salaries - which range from $14,500 to around $75,000 - are comparable to other areas, he said he advocates implementing a two-step pay increase for every county employee next year. That would increase the average employee's annual salary by $1,500 to $2,000 and would cost the county around $200,000, Strauss said.

Strauss said he would like to examine whether the county should implement employee performance reviews, something not currently done.

County commissioners make $30,800 a year, Strauss said.

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