Facing budget pressures, county weighs employee pay options

On the eve of March, Citrus County has begun formulating the Fiscal Year 2017-18 budget, which begins on Oct. 1.
As its constitutional officers begin to mark up their own budgets to go inside the overall county budget, the county also has to consider the cost of the pay scales of its own employees, and a whole host of other costs associated with running the county.
At Tuesday's county commission meeting, commissioners were asked to consider an outside company to do a study - with any recommendations binding on the county in the collective bargaining agreement with the employee union - to comprehensively classify and determine appropriate compensation for county employees.
That might be easier said than done, and the commissioners decided it would be cheaper if the county just did the job itself. But something will have to be done. County Administrator Randy Oliver told commissioners that there has been a lot turnover in lower-level employees leaving the county workforce.
On top of this, the county has to answer the question: How will implementing recommendations be done? Commissioner Ron Kitchen suggested a multi-year phase-in, to which Oliver said, "It has been my experience that multi-year phase in's blow up."
The last comprehensive classification and compensation study was performed in 1999. Since that time, adjustments have been made to the minimum and maximum ranges, and several positions over time have been reclassified based on an established internal process. 
A hoped-for outcome of a study would be that it will indicate what actions should be taken, if any, to avoid loss of qualified staff and difficulties in recruiting new employees for Citrus County employment, while competitively compensating its current employees. In addition, it is expected that the study will recommend adjustments to the County's pay plan rules, polices and salary structure.
Evergreen Solutions LLC would have been the company to do the study, but the job now falls to the county, since commissioners on Tuesday decided to have county division chiefs and others do the job, a move that commissioners said would save about $38,500, which is what the county would have paid Evergreen to perform.
According to county records, the County Negotiation Team and the Teamsters, Chauffeurs and Helpers, Local Union No. 79 negotiated for the Collective Bargaining Agreement with an effective date of Oct. 1, 2016 for wages only. The Tentative Agreement to settle outlines the terms the County and Teamsters have tentatively agreed to, with final authority resting with the Citrus County Board of County Commissioners.
The settlement also waives a wage re-opener in 2017-18, provided the Class and Pay Study is completed by Sept. 30, 2017 and implemented by April 1, 2018.
County Administrator Oliver told commissioners that there could be several methodologies provided regarding how the plan can be implemented.
"Key (provisions are) are to ensure pay ranges are right and any implementation must fit whatever money (we have to work with)," Oliver said.
Commission Chairman Scott Carnahan said the county could move forward with the issue, noting that Oliver had already set aside $100,000, which could be used to help level the pay playing field. Oliver noted that the $100,000 would not be part of future budgets, however.
Upcoming FY 2017-18 Budget Hearings
  • Preliminary Budget Hearing: July 26, 2017 at 9 a.m.
  • Tentative Budget Hearing: Sept. 14, 2017 at 5:01 p.m.
  • Final Budget Hearing: Sept. 26, 2017 at 5:01 p.m.
  • All hearings will be in the Citrus County Courthouse, 110 N. Apopka Ave., Room 100, Inverness
Other Upcoming Workshops and Special Meeting
  • Special Meeting: Impact Fees at 9 a.m. on March 14.
  • Special Meeting: Economic Development at 9 a.m. on March 28.
  • Workshop: Fire Services at 9 a.m. on May 9.
  • All meetings will be held in the Citrus County Courthouse, Room 100, 110 N. Apopka Ave.