Commission approves new county pay plan

Health department building replacement could cost
$1 million

Staff writer

Marion County Commission adopted a new county pay plan Monday in an effort to make compensation more uniform. Commissioners also discussed possible changes to other benefits, including reduced sick leave.

The plan includes provisions for cost-of-living adjustments, raises for longevity, and merit-based raises. The plan classifies positions in one of 10 pay scales, and each scale has a minimum and a maximum wage. The county considered pay rates for comparable positions in similar counties when setting the ranges.

There are several employees below the minimum wage and a few above the maximum, Deputy County Clerk Tina Spencer said.

Commissioners also approved a 2 percent payroll increase, with the goal of getting the employees below their minimum wage up to that threshold. The employees making more than the maximum wage will not take a pay cut, but will not receive raises.

The first raise for longevity will be at 10 years, and raises for longevity will stop at 25 years. Merit-based raises will allow employees to receive larger raises sooner than waiting for longevity raises, Spencer said.

“It avoids placing too much weight on longevity,” she said.

The pay plan does not obligate commissioners to give raises every year.

Commission Chairman Randy Dallke said he thought the commission should re-evaluate other benefits, including sick leave. He said he didn’t know of any company in the area that gives employees 12 days of sick leave per year. He recommended cutting it to six days.

Commissioner Dan Holub said the county could freeze accrual of sick time that can be sold back to the county when an employee leaves as an alternative. The commission took no action on any benefits.

High costs of a new building

Commissioners were surprised to read an estimate from engineer Dan Hall that a proposed new building to house the county health, planning and zoning, environmental health, and aging departments could cost as much as $1 million.

The estimate was based on 80,000 square feet, which also included storage space. The estimate did not include land acquisition or site improvement.

Dallke said he wasn’t prepared to spend that much money.

Holub said he thinks it is something that needs to be done, but the combination of a slow economy and an increased state sales tax would make now the wrong time to build.

If the property tax exemption for Keystone Pipeline were lifted, it wouldn’t be an issue, Holub said.

In other business:

  • The annual solid waste assessment resolution was approved with no changes.
  • The county is tracking damage from weekend flooding in case the Federal Emergency Management Agency gets involved, Road and Bridge Superintendent Jim Herzet said.
  • A Road and Bridge Department truck was totaled when an attempt to pull it out of a ditch ended with the truck flipping onto its side. Commissioners rejected bids for a used truck to replace it, saying the bids were too expensive for a used truck.
  • Herzet requested a five-minute closed session to discuss personnel. No action was taken on return to open session.
  • Transfer Station Director Rollin Schmidt will try to schedule a meeting with representatives from Stutzman Refuse Disposal Inc. for a county recycling program.
  • Schmidt requested a five-minute closed session to discuss personnel. No action was taken on return to open session.
  • Commissioners met in closed session for 135 minutes for department head evaluations.
  • Kansas Department of Wildlife tested Marion County Park and Lake for zebra mussels. The county should have results later this summer.
  • The lake’s local appreciation weekend attracted 22 campers, including four first-timers and three who hadn’t camped at the lake in the previous five years.

The next commission meeting will be Monday.

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