Darren Doyle, story:
At least two magistrates questioned Judge Executive Wil Cannon's recommendation to raise Edmonson County Parks and Rec's Program Administrator pay $1 per hour at today's fiscal court meeting; with one magistrate opposing the pay raise and another questioning the figures.
Judge Cannon recommended that Parks and Rec's John Kiernan's pay be raised from $12.24/hr to $13.24/hr, or an annual salary of $16,523.52. Cannon said that the Parks and Rec program has thrived since Kiernan took over in February of 2018 and that the pay increase was well deserved.
The county has to keep Kiernan's position under 1200 yearly hours in order to stay exempt from retirement benefits, something the county does not pay to the part-time position. Currently, Kiernan is paid by the hour, for 24 hours per week; however, that exceeds the yearly hourly limit by by 49 hours (1248 total).
Cannon asked for an increase from $15,275.52 to an annual salary of $16,523.52, which he said was based on $13.24/hr for 1199 total yearly hours.
Magistrate Joe Durbin disagreed with the pay increase, citing examples of what he thought were unfair practices to other county offices.
"Since he's been on the job, we've furnished him a truck, we've furnished him a cell phone, which the past park director did not get, and I think that's kind of unfair," Durbin said. "Any county employee that uses their phone should be compensated." He then asked the assistant county road foreman if he or any of the road department was reimbursed for personal cell phone use, to which the answer was "no."
"That's not really treating everybody fair," Durbin continued. Using the road department as an example, he said he guessed those guys conduct 75% of their business from their personal cell phones.
"One thing I've been about, in my position, and I instructed Ray (Page, road foreman) early on, I said if we can't do it for everybody, we're not going to do it for anybody," said Durbin. "The pay--you said we weren't going to start upping the rate of pay and John accepted that in that short of time. These guys, (he pointed to the asst. road foreman) and any county employee that's been on the job--some of them 15, 20 years--they sweat over that asphalt, they freeze in the winter months when they're out doing their work, we're not offering them anything besides the annual 2% increase. I just think it's unfair that if we can't do it for everybody, then we shouldn't be discussing it."
"If you remember right, we did it for everybody over the last four-year time period," he said. "We've given everybody at least a 50 cent raise per hour increase after they've been here for six months. The road department got a dollar an hour, on top of the 2% the year before last, I believe it was. So it's not like we haven't done it for others."
Cannon also the cell phone issue. He said Kiernan conducts 100% of Parks and Rec business from his cell phone. County Treasurer Tammi Willhite noted that it's because there is no landline for Parks and Rec like there is for other county offices. Cannon noted that fiscal court approved reimbursement to Kiernan earlier in the year. Fiscal Court voted to approve that upon proof of bill submission and an invoice, Kiernan would be paid $50 a month towards his phone bill. Disconnecting the park phone has saved $130.00 each month. That motion passed unanimously on June 25, 2018.
"You all agreed with me on that, and it's the same thing for the truck," Cannon said. "If we're paying an employee $12 an hour and he's having to drive to all the parks, all these events on his own dime, I thought that was unfair. For him, it's not just about getting in his car and driving to work then going home. He travels between the parks systems, the courthouse to conduct business, he goes to town to pick up materials for the park, it also helps pull lawnmowers at times. There's a lot of different reasons we bought the truck and again, we all agreed to buy the truck for those reasons.
Durbin said he and other magistrates indeed agreed but said he didn't know the list was "going to go on and on."
"The truck was already lined up and was after-the-fact when it was brought to us, but still yet, I went along with it, but this pay increase, again, it's adding to what we're taking on in that parks and rec position, and John knew what the pay was 7 or 8 months ago when he took the position, and agreed to it. I don't see at this point it warrants an increase, myself."
Magistrate Mark Woosley said that when Kiernan was hired, nothing was ever mentioned about a pay increase after a certain amount of time and pointed out that the figures listed on today's agenda were not multiplied correctly. The agenda listed the requested salary amount of $16,523.52 but Woosley pointed out that 1199 hours at $13.24/hr equaled $15,874.76.
Treasurer Willhite then clarified the figures and said the $16k number was based on 24hrs per week, the number Kiernan currently works, at the new hourly rate of $13.24; however, under the pay raise, Kiernan would no longer be an hourly employee, but a retirement-exempt, part-time salaried employee. Cannon said the county has other part-time employees that are salaried and retirement-exempt.
At Kiernan's current hourly rate, if the county forced him to work a maximum number of 1199 hours, instead of the current 1248, Kiernan's yearly pay would decrease by $599.76. To counter that, Cannon wanted to change his employment status from hourly to salary, but base the pay on an increased hourly rate at his regular working hours. Changing Kiernan to salary would eliminate the need for keeping up with hours altogether.
Willhite noted that the request for pay increase should've been broken down into two different requests: 1. for Kiernan to be changed from hourly to salary with a pay increase, and 2. For notation, that the job requires working less than 1200 hours per year. She also noted that Kiernan actually works more than those hours because of his dedication to the program; however, he just doesn't turn in that time.
Magistrate Woosley noted that magistrates use their personal cell phones, too but don't get reimbursed. Willhite said that's because magistrates are listed as full-time county employees with a $300 per month allowance for expenses. Magistrates are paid a base salary of $520.67 per month, plus the $300 for expenses for a total of $820.67 per month, plus retirement benefits and health insurance. Part-time employee receive no benefits or expense reimbursements.
She also noted that Kiernan's cell phone is the only advertised contact number for Parks and Rec and that magistrates have the option of advertising their personal cell phone numbers.
Magistrate Durbin said that Road Foreman Page also conducted most of his business from his personal cell phone and Cannon said that he was open to discussing reimbursement for Page's cell phone in a future meeting.
Cannon said the court would table the issue until the next meeting. There was no vote on the item.