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Jefferson County employee raises on hold

August 20, 2008|By DAVE McMILLION

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. -- Tensions continued Tuesday over attempts to give Jefferson County government employees raises when the Jefferson County Commission agreed to delay acting on an Aug. 7 decision to give raises to 26 employees.

The commissioners, with the exception of Commissioner Dale Manuel, decided to delay the action, saying they were unaware of the extent of some salary increases in the plan.

Commissioner Rusty Morgan said during a meeting Tuesday that it initially appeared the raises would cost $146,000.

Now, commissioners say the raises will cost considerably more and Morgan said he wants to make sure the plan is completed correctly.

The commission agreed to put a hold on the raises at least until the regular commission meeting Thursday.

There were pointed exchanges between officials as they argued over how information was distributed about the raises and their costs.

Teresa Hendricks, head of the county's tax department, told the commissioners it is her job to edit payroll checks. Hendricks said she believed there were going to be salary increases in checks and when she noticed there were no increases, she asked a finance official about the situation.

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The finance official said the raises had been implemented but they were pulled back when a "certain commissioner" came into the Jefferson County Clerk's office.

Groans went up from a crowd of county employees in attendance at Tuesday's meeting after Hendricks' comments.

"That's silly," said Commissioner Jim Surkamp.

Surkamp did not say it was he who went into the county clerk's office, but he complained about not getting information about the raises.

In a later exchange with County Administrator Leslie Smith, Surkamp said "not a single commissioner" realized Smith was getting a $13,000 raise.

"You'll have to speak for yourself, Mr. Surkamp," Commission President Frances Morgan said.

Raises for employees have been debated for weeks as officials have expressed concerns about some salaries being as low as $21,500.

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