During its budget work session Wednesday night, the Lincoln County Board of Commissioners wrestled with a proposed cost-of-living adjustment for county employees.
County Manager George Wood’s 2012-2013 budget currently calls for a 2.5 percent increase, which would be the first for employees in three years.
In discussing the proposal, commissioner George Arena said he would rather see a merit-based system put into place that would give the county more flexibility and thought it could be done more selectively, rather than across the board.
“I’m not objecting to the pot,” he said. “I’m objecting to how it’s distributed.”
He also expressed some concern with seeing it take effect July 1, and he noted that teachers weren’t receiving raises.
Commissioners seemingly agreed that a merit-based system was more favorable, but there were questions as to how that could be carried out.
Though Chairman Alex Patton said he believed a merit system was generally the way to go, he said he is in support of the cost-of-living adjustment for the next fiscal year because the employees hadn’t had one for three years. He also noted that implementing a merit-based system couldn’t happen overnight.
Additionally, Wood noted that it was important to keep the employees’ base salaries competitive.
Though a decision was not ultimately made, they agreed that the issue needed to be looked into further before voting on the budget.
And, while raises for county employees may be up in the air for the next fiscal year, the much-discussed renovation of the old hospital building on Gamble Drive in Lincolnton into county offices has been pushed back and is currently projected into the fiscal year 2014 budget.