Work Session Scheduled to Help Resolve Pulaski County’s Salary Matrix Issues

Pulaski County officials hope to put an end to the confusion surrounding the county’s salary matrix, during a joint work session next week. The idea was raised during Monday’s county council and commissioners meetings. Highway Superintendent Terry Ruff and Sheriff Jeff Richwine again asked for guidance on a couple ongoing salary issues, but the council’s matrix committee still hadn’t met yet to discuss them. Council member Scott Hinkle suggested that the discussion take place with the full council and board of commissioners, instead.

The discussion began when Ruff asked when new employees should be switched from a probationary wage to their full starting wage, as specified by the matrix. Council members then voted that new employees would go on the matrix 90 days after they’re hired, as Ruff previously suggested.

Council member Ken Boswell again called for county officials to keep better track of these sorts of decisions. “I’m not against the matrix, but the procedures – well, there isn’t a really good term to use, other than they suck, as an employee, because they’re not documented, and we’ve got to have them documented,” he said. “Nobody knows. I don’t know what to tell you because I’m not sure what we told you the last time, and somebody else came in, did we tell them exactly the same thing? I don’t know because I’ve got no paper to tell you ‘This is how it works.’”

Ruff also raised concerns about the pay rate for part-time employees. While Pulaski County didn’t give part-time employees raises this year, Ruff said other departments appear to have found ways around that. “We hear rumors at one department, they get more money because they’re experienced part-time help,” he said. “We’ve always went with the guideline at $12.90 an hour.”

On top of that, Ruff also complained about certain cuts made to his budget. County officials believed the cuts were made at the state level, but Ruff wasn’t sure who made them.

For one thing, the yearly stipend paid to the department’s secretary for her additional duties as asset management coordinator was cut entirely. Ruff felt the employee deserved the extra $2,500 since her efforts have resulted in over a million dollars in Community Crossings grants for the county over the past couple years. Council member Boswell and Commissioner Kenny Becker felt that money should be added into the employee’s regular wage, rather than budgeting different parts of the same job separately. Council President Jay Sullivan disagreed.

Meanwhile, Sheriff Jeff Richwine asked council members to consider a raise for his staff members, to keep their pay levels at the correct percentages of his pay level. This comes after Richwine recently received a raise to keep his pay rate half that of the county prosecutor’s, as required by state law.

With all the ongoing confusion, Commissioner Becker voiced his frustration with the salary matrix concept. “Why didn’t they just leave it like it was before because every time we come to a joint meeting, it’s always a mess,” he said. “You’re always talking about the same thing, and we’re always in an argument. This one’s not happy, and that one’s not happy. For years, it was the same, and we never had no problem.”

To help resolve some of these issues, the council and commissioners scheduled a joint work session for Wednesday, April 18 at 7:00 p.m. County department heads will be invited to send a list of their concerns ahead of time, along with suggestions for how to resolve them. Any decisions made during the work session would have to be approved during an upcoming regular meeting.