Employee compensation, litter mentioned at Aiken County’s Funds Planning Retreat | Information

During the Aiken County’s annual Budget Planning Retreat on Friday at the Aiken County Government Center, issues such as how to improve employee compensation and deal with waste issues were discussed.

Department heads presented their recent successes and problems. They also talked about their wants and needs for fiscal year 2021-2022, which will start on July 1st.

Afterward, county council members attending the retreat or attending remotely met with county’s senior officials to give them some ideas about their budget priorities and goals.

“Compensation is certainly the main problem the council faces with vacancies because it can either fail to hire or lose people to high-paying jobs,” said Gary Bunker, county council chairman. “I think we’ve made great strides in the emergency services area, which was a special case. However, I think there are still some organization-wide compensation issues that we need to address further. “

Eileen Twomey, the county human resources manager, suggested a 2% cost of living adjustment for all employees that would require $ 753,605 to fund and a 10% increase in the salary range, which would start at $ 147,750 and help with hiring.

Twomey also recommended a program that rewards high performing employees. That would cost $ 375,891, which is roughly 1% of the county’s wage bill.

Twomey believes such a program would improve employee retention.

“At this point we just have to look at the details and see how it would work,” said Bunker. “Some of the things she suggested are good ideas I think we should consider.”

Part of the presentation by Paige Bayne, director of County Code Enforcement, was devoted to the trash.

“I know you all get calls about trash in the streets,” she said. “There is definitely a problem there. We know about it. We see it. “

In 2020, the novel coronavirus pandemic hampered efforts to pick up trash, Bayne reported.

One example of this was the disruption of the court system by COVID-19 and its impact on the local nonprofit aid program Assign-A-Highway.

In Aiken County, the number of assigned workers decreased from 138 in 2019 to 51 last year. The number of trash bags picked up decreased from 2,070 to 610. The total amount of trash removed (by officials) from streets decreased from 41,400 pounds to 12,200 pounds.

The number of hours worked in community service fell from 4,633 to 1,131. And the total miles of the cleaned pavement fell from 926 to 226.

Some volunteer groups are no longer as active as before because of the coronavirus, Bayne said.

She asked the county for financial assistance to hire two additional officers to enforce the code and a crew of four to clean up rubbish. This team of workers should have a pickup truck and a trailer, according to Bayne’s presentation.

In addition, Bayne said she would like the Tommy Gate branded “tailgates” to be installed on 12 vans to aid code enforcement officers in removing heavy items such as furniture and equipment that have been dumped near roads.

Officers could also use the “tailgate” to remove captured animals.

Bunker said funding these inquiries was one way, but added that there was “no easy solution” to the county’s waste problem.

“The thing to remember,” he continued, “is that even what is suggested will only be a patch.” It might help, but it won’t fix it. “

In Bunker’s opinion, “a major solution will have to wait until the courts are back in full swing and sentenced and until people feel comfortable doing it again (picking up trash).”

Another big challenge, he said, is, “We still have this cultural problem with people who just think it’s acceptable and right, your Big Mac paper wrapper, the french fry container, and the 32-ounce container. Throwing beverage containers out of the window. “

Bunker described many of the requests made during the overall budget retreat as “very reasonable”.

But it will be difficult to find money for all of them.

“The key for the council will be how much budget we have,” said Bunker. “We have to pay for all the things that we already pay for. The revenue is strong so I expect more money. But a lot of it gets eaten up when we raise our salaries and raise state old-age and health insurance – all of those things. It is very likely that very little can be spent on new initiatives. “

In addition to Bunker, County Council members Sandy Haskell, Danny Feagin, and Willar Hightower Jr. attended the Budget Planning Retreat. Camille Furgiuele participated from afar.

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