Commissioners ask for Knox County employee pay raise in budget

Commissioners ask for Knox County employee pay raise in budget

Posted:
"Those making anywhere between $8.00 and $15.00 per hour, if there's any way to get them bumped up, I would like to see us do that," Commissioner Hammond said. "Those making anywhere between $8.00 and $15.00 per hour, if there's any way to get them bumped up, I would like to see us do that," Commissioner Hammond said.
"It'd make a life a little easier. I know I'd go spend more if I made more," county worker Chad Rutherford said. "It'd make a life a little easier. I know I'd go spend more if I made more," county worker Chad Rutherford said.

By MIKE KRAFCIK
6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett releases his budget next week.  

In the meantime, county commissioners are submitting what they're hoping to see in that budget. Topping the list is pay raises for county workers.

Several commissioners told Mayor Burchett giving raises to the county's general employees is at the top of their wish list.

Commissioner Mike Hammond says he would like Mayor Burchett to put pay raises in his budget for the "lowest paid" of the 779 full-time general employees.

"Those making anywhere between $8.00 and $15.00 per hour, if there's any way to get them bumped up, I would like to see us do that," Hammond said.

That includes general county employees who work in the following departments:  Air Quality, Community Development, County Mayor, Engineering & Public Works, Finance, Health Department, Information Technology, Library, Parks and Recreation and Senior Services. 

About 25 percent of them, or 199 employees, make $30,000 or less.

"We need to reward a job well done. If we have employees who've not had raises and are on that lower tier, I think it makes sense to take a look at rewarding them. It's hard to raise a family on $20,000 or $25,000 a year," Hammond said. 

For the past year, Chad Rutherford has worked with Knox County Highway Department, making $9.60 an hour.  With a newborn child at home, Rutherford said a pay raise is something he'd like to see.  

"It'd make a life a little easier. I know I'd go spend more if I made more," Rutherford said.  

Commissioner R. Larry Smith has also asked Mayor Burchett to look at raises for lower-wage general employees.

"I think it's time to affect their pocketbook. Let's give them more money to take home that they can pay some of their family bills," Smith said.

Mayor Burchett is currently figuring out if the raises could fit into the budget.

The Knox County Sheriff's Office has already asked for a step raise plus 3% for its employees.

The Finance Department estimates it costs $1 million to provide a 1% raise for each of the county's 2,532 employees.

Around 30% of the county's employees make $30,000 or less.

"We'd like to do all those things. The economy is tough. It's a very fluid situation right now. Nothing is set in stone," Burchett said.

In 2011, commissioners passed an amendment to give roughly 2,300 general government and sheriff's office workers a 3%, across-the-board salary increase. 

In 2012, Mayor Burchett gave employees an extra week of vacation.

"We're just trying to make it fair and equitable to everybody. We don't know what we're going to be able to do," Burchett said.

The fate of any employee pay raise will be determined next Wednesday. That's when Mayor Burchett will be present his budget to county commission.

If Burchett doesn't purpose a pay raise, commissioners could still make an amendment to do so.

Burchett plans to follow his budget presentation with a series of nine public meetings around the county from May 1- 3. 

  • Carter Senior Center, Wednesday, May 1 from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. at 9040 Asheville Highway 
  • Halls Senior Center, Wednesday, May 1 from 1:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. at 4405 Crippen Road
  • Knox Co. Health Dept. Community Room, Wednesday, May 1 from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. at 140 Dameron Avenue 
  • Cedar Bluff Library, Thursday, May 2 from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. at 9045 Cross Park Drive
  • Bearden Library, Thursday, May 2 from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at 100 Golf Club Road
  • Karns Community Youth Center, Thursday, May 2 from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. at 6616 Beaver Ridge Road
  • O'Connor Senior Center, Friday, May 3 from 9:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. at 611 Winona Street
  • South Knox Senior Center, Friday, May 3 from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. at 6729 Martel Lane
  • Farragut Library, Friday, May 3 from 4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. at 417 N. Campbell Station Road
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