Todd Kinney

In this March 2019 file photo, Clinton County Engineer Todd Kinney speaks with county supervisors. This week, Kenny requested a 3% wage increase for the county engineering department. File photo

CLINTON — The Clinton County Board of Supervisors plans to discuss potential raises for departments throughout the county next week after hearing a request for a 3% wage increase in fiscal year 2022 from Clinton County Engineer Todd Kinney for the county engineering department.

Kinney noted multiple positions in the county rank higher for compensation than the county engineer and other positions in the secondary roads office. The county engineer compensation ranks 18th in the county, mechanics rank 34th and patrol operators and truck drivers rank 21st, according to state data, Kinney said. Kinney noted the auditor, attorney, recorder, Board of Supervisors, sheriff, Building and Grounds, EMA and Human Resources rank in the top 15 for counties in the state, according to state data.

“Applying the same percent increase across the board makes the assumption that those positions are currently where they’re at or where they should be based on the comparables,” Kinney said. “And in this case, that’s not an accurate assumption. So that’s why I’m proposing 3%, which is in the budget. The amount of property tax that the board is transferring to me has been the same for the last four years. So this isn’t going to impact the property tax budget or what you transfer to secondary roads.”

This request comes after the arbitration decision to offer a 3% increase for all county sheriff’s office employees, Board Vice Chairman Jim Irwin Jr. noted. The Supervisors in the budget process budgeted a 3% increase for all elected officials with the exception of the Board of Supervisors. The Supervisors and non-elected official county employees were budgeted to receive 2% increases.

“We’re concerned about where the dollars are going to come from,” Irwin said. “We’re going to have a little bit of wiggle room in our budget with the decision of the legislators to take on more of the cost for mental health at the state level. ...It’s going to cost us about 20 to 24 cents per $1,000 for mental health instead of 60-some cents plus or minus that it was originally going to cost us. So there’s some dollars there that will be available.”

Supervisor Dan Srp believes considering the entire salary benefit package as it impacts the employee and impacts the county and taxpayers is the way he would like to think about potential raises, he said. With the additional cost of health insurance the county is covering, the county would have been just under a 3% benefit package increase with the 2% increases and the budgeted 11% employee contribution for health insurance.

With the county’s action to set the employee health insurance contribution to 8% to match the arbitration ruling for the sheriff’s office, Srp believes the county will be over a 3% total package increase, he said.

Srp has been in situations with previous entities where it was negotiated to keep the salary increase higher with a reduction in the quality of the benefit package, he said. Different groups have different priorities, he added.

“I’ve always understood that maintaining the level of health insurance benefits that we have in place is a high-level priority for the employee groups within the county,” Srp said. “And so we’ve always kept that as a priority to try and maintain that and honor those requests with the employees. But then I think that can impact how much money we’ve got available for raises at the end of the day.”

If the county is going to keep what Srp considers a really nice and high-quality benefit plan, Srp hopes the employees understand there is a cost with staying with the plan, Srp said. The benefits do not come to the county free of charge, Srp stressed.

Irwin believes the county offers a very good health benefit package. Many county employees that have never worked anywhere else in the private sector do not realize how good the health benefit package is, Irwin said.

The county tabled the resolution for the proposed fiscal year 2022 secondary roads wage increase and will discuss it next week as part of a discussion on compensation for employees throughout the entire county.

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