Media Archive

County looks at salaries in budget

Article from The Piscataquis Observer, Vol. 166, No. 1, January 07, 2004

By Jessica Lee
Staff Writer

DOVER-FOXCROFT The Piscataquis County Commissioners revisited the 2004 budget Tuesday morning, specifically addressing concerns about salaries.

Commissioners voted 2 to 1, with Chairman Eben Dewitt opposed, to raise the salaries of elected and appointed officials 5 percent in 2004. In previous discussions, the commissioners agreed to maintain a 3.3 percent raise for those officials, as recommended by the budget advisory committee.

Tuesday, Piscataquis County Sheriff John Goggin asked the commissioners to reconsider the increase, specifically for four administrators in the jail and sheriff's departments all appointed officials. He said that due to the 53 week year, some of those employees are actually bringing home less per week than last year.

After those supervisors received their first pay check in 2004, Goggin said, most came to the sheriff saying "this can't be right."

According to Jail Administrator David Harmon, his salary increase on the first pay check of the new year amounted to a 1.6 percent jump over last year when he was expecting more. "I'm actually taking home less money each week," he said, compared to 2003.

Treasurer Donna Hathaway explained that those salaried employees will likely see a drop in their weekly income, but not their yearly income, due to the 53-week year. She pointed out that the salary increase calculated on a yearly basis is 3.3 percent, as budgeted.

Harmon said that increase is not equitable to those budgeted for union and hourly employees, some of whom are getting an 8 to 9 percent salary increase due to longevity and cost of living raises.

Administrators are getting a cost of living increase, which is really just maintaining," he said. "You're not giving just compensation to salaried employees."

"The salaried people are losing and the union people are gaining," agreed Goggin. "I don't want to see that happen." He added that, in the long run, this could create an environment when supervisory positions could be shunned.

Goggin urged the commissioners to reconsider the increase also because some of the administrators are looking at joining the union, in order to ensure fair wages. "I have three supervisors who want to reapply for union membership," he said.

Commissioner Tom Lizotte said that the commissioners need to look at hiring a professional to analyze the county's wage scale and help recommend fair salary rates for all employees. However, he noted, the money to hire such a person is not in this year's budget. In the meantime, he said, the commission is forced to implement "stop-gap measures" to try to fix the problem.

"Its like we're trying to untie a knot, and it's not very easy," Lizotte said.

Commissioner Tony Bartley moved that the salaries for elected and appointed officials increase 5 percent in the 2004 budget, with the exception of those salaries for the registrars of deeds and probate that were set at the Dec. 29 meeting. Lizotte and Bartley voted in favor of the motion.

NOTE - This article reflects the views of the author and not necessarily those of the TRC Alliance Team.