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Two percent raise may hit this year
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If approved by the Dawson County Board of Commissioners on Nov. 20, county employees may be getting a cost of living raise sooner than expected.

County Manager Cindy Campbell will present to the board at Thursdays work session a request to make a 2-percent cost-of-living increase effective starting the end of November and continue into 2015.

Commission Chair Mike Berg, however, is not a supporter of that type of increase.

Im not a big fan of cost of living adjustments for pay incentives, Berg said during a recent Rotary Club meeting. I think its far better to reward employees who do something above and beyond over those who dont.

Berg has proposed to hire a consultant to review pay-for-performance initiatives for county employees.

Whether it fits for government, well see, he said. Government is not a business, its a service.

Approximately $120,000 has been set aside in the proposed budget for performance raises in 2015.

In addition to a possible cost of living increase, some county employees may receive up to a 10-percent raise in 2015. Four others may receive more than 10 percent, based on a salary study completed by The Archer Company, to reach a minimum target salary base, Berg said.

The salary study surveyed 322 full-time county positions. Part-time employees were not included. Archer compared Dawson County salaries with counties and cities it competes with for employees. Forsyth, Hall, Lumpkin, Pickens and Union counties were selected, along with the cities of Canton, Jasper, Cumming, Dahlonega, Dawsonville, Ellijay and Gainesville.

To complete the survey, Archer had employees fill out a detailed questionnaire of their job description. A second round of forms was given to supervisors to fill out more information on positions.

Based on the answers, Archer evaluated each position through a point system.

Archer utilized their proprietary job evaluation system to assign point values to tasks that combine to make up positions, Campbell said. This point system placed each position into a salary range.

The study estimates to bring all employees up to the minimum salary base will cost the county about $132,995. To bring all employees up to the target range would cost an additional $489,400.

In 2013, $10.9 million was paid out in salaries. The sheriff is the highest paid position in the county at $90,805. The lowest paid full-time county position is transit drivers at $20,800.

Departments lagging the furthest in pay, according to the study, are parks and recreation, the senior center, public works and the sheriffs department. Departments not lagging in pay, according to the study, were finance, Family Connection, the district attorneys office, clerk of court and administration.

Even though Berg is not a fan of COLA, he said he is hopeful commissioners will approve it and the minimum salary recommendations.

Weve just had six years without giving folks anything and that has to change, Berg said when he presented his budget last month to the board.

Campbell will make her presentations for COLAs at Thursdays work session at 4 p.m. in the Dawson County Government Center. After a second public hearing Nov. 20, the board will vote on the recommended budget.