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Columbia County Observer

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County Salary Study: County 5 Caught Flat Footed
Coming up - A workshop "with different stuff"

COLUMBIA COUNTY, FL – Columbia County's workers, the ones that work directly for the County 5 (the County Commission) haven't received a real raise since 2008. The County 5 discussed this a couple of times during the recent 2014 budget cycle, but as usually happens with The 5, nothing happened that anybody could see. Last night, after the Observer asked what happened with the salary study, it was revealed that The 5 had planned a workshop.

When the housing bubble blew up and economies crashed all over the nation, municipal workers, especially the lowest paid were hit the hardest, with many having to supplement their income with food stamps. Columbia County was no exception. While The 5 made sure the County 5's top brass received massive raises after a government reorganization, those that mowed the lawns, dug the ditches, and worked in the trenches were ignored.

The Clerk of the Courts, the Property Appraiser, and the Tax Collector, all constitutional officers, have the ability to set their own pay scales and they do. They don't need the approval of the County 5 to do it. Their revenue does not come from county taxes.

While the Sheriff has the authority to set the pay rate at the Sheriff's Office, his revenue is dependent on the County 5. This year he rolled back an across the board 3% increase after The 5 said they wouldn't fund it.

On September 9, during this year's budget cycle, after the Observer mentioned that County employees hadn't received a raise since 2008, Commissioner Ronald Williams thought a first step would be to do a salary survey.

Commissioner Williams addressed the Commission: I would like to ask this board to do a survey of this entire county. Before we can start adjusting salaries and giving raises, we need to (unintelligible) everybody to where they need to be paid, on the survey. We need to get comparative data. Let's do a salary survey and see where we are with all county employees, no matter what constitutional officer they're working for, and then we'll address that.

The 5 approved the survey.

Coming Up: A workshop with salaries and different stuff

Last night when the Observer asked about the County worker salary study, The 5 did what they do best – stare into outer space.

Commissioner Nash, during his evening wrap up, addressed the issue.

Commissioner Nash asked, "I thought we had a workshop about the salaries and stuff in the works."

Chairman Stephen Bailey answered, "Yes, we've got one -- they're working on getting it together."

Commissioner Nash continued, "Ok. I have been with the Sheriff's Office and Kevin [public works] and I've pretty much done my due diligence on the salary survey. I don't know if everybody agrees, but I think it's a work in progress. I don't think it's something you take lightly and you do overnight. There are some disproportionate, different things, but it's not for me to sit here to say (unintelligible). I think we're taking the right approach and I stand behind what we're doing."

The Observer asked, "What are you doing? Nobody knows what you're doing."

Commissioner Nash replied, "We're going to have a workshop in November with the salaries and different stuff."

The Observer, "Was that discussed or was that just announced tonight? When did you decide that?"

Chairman Bailey added, "A date has not been set, but we have previously said that it was going to be in November."

It is not clear who said that and where and when it was said.

Commission Nash came up with more information, "We're going to set out a plan of what we're doing."

Chairman Bailey explained, "It takes staff a little bit of time to get some stuff put together. This isn't the only project that they are working on."

Commission Nash said he went to the Sheriff's Office and the Sheriff had a big spreadsheet of different things and different stuff.

Commissioner Williams concluded, "The salary survey is not just for the Sheriff's Department. It's for everybody in the entire county so we can determine where we are no matter who you work for or what department you work for."


Once again, the County 5 are off on their own. Rather than employ a real company to do a meaningful, independent salary study which would include all County workers, including Lake City, they are doing their own thing in the back rooms of the County, which is where they have been doing the real business of the County for generations. 

The Columbia County 5 from left to right: Commissioners Ronald Williams; Rusty DePratter; Bucky Nash; Stephen Bailey; Scarlet Frisina

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