As promised when crafting the budget for 2012-13, Gila County supervisors approved a nice, early Christmas present for employees.
At the Nov. 13 meeting, the board approved a $460,000 one-time, lump sum payment for employees — the first for county workers in four years. County Manager Don McDaniel said the payment would average from $425 to $525 for each eligible employee.
McDaniel said the budget prepared with the cooperation of elected officials and appointed department heads included a 5 percent reduction in overall spending from the 2011-12 budget. A status check three months into the fiscal year showed county departments have indeed reduced spending, giving McDaniel the confidence to approve the payment.
McDaniel said county employees have not received a pay increase since January 2008. That’s when the county suspended the former merit system method of providing employees a 2.5 percent increase annually.
“The employees have stepped up and continued to provide dedicated, high quality service to the citizens of Gila County. In many cases new and increased services have been provided without additional people or any increase in pay.
“Making a one-time, lump sum payment to each employee rather than making a step adjustment in each employee’s pay grade has the advantage of allowing the board of supervisors the flexibility of funding the payment each year depending upon the availability of funds. With the current economic uncertainty nationally, statewide and in Gila County, not obligating the board to a continuing pay increase is prudent use of taxpayers’ dollars, while at the same time recognizing employees for their commitment and hard work,” McDaniel said in his written presentation to the board.
He said the $460,000 one-time, lump sum is fair to employees and is based upon the Consumer Price Index. It is fair to the taxpayers for the same reasons, he said.
McDaniel said employees will get a single, lump-sum check on Thursday, Nov. 29, 2012, which comes between regular bi-weekly paychecks. All full-time workers hired before Oct. 1, 2012 will receive the one-time bonus. District 3 Supervisor Shirley Dawson said she was happy to see the proposed payment divided straight across the board, with all employees getting paid equally rather than with the disparity that would result had it been based on the salary schedule.
“I appreciate it that each department made cuts,” Dawson said.
“We have asked everyone to do more with less and I appreciate being able to reward them,” District One Supervisor Tommie Martin said.
District Two Supervisor Mike Pastor said he also appreciated that staff worked out the agreement and had reduced spending.