Most Tulsa County workers to get pay raises
BY KEVIN CANFIELD World Staff Writer
Tuesday, December 11, 2012
12/11/12 at 7:34 AM
The Tulsa County Budget Board approved 2 percent raises Monday for most of the county's nearly 2,000 full- and part-time employees. The pay raises are retroactive to Dec. 1 of this year.
In a separate vote, the board deadlocked on whether to give the county's eight elected officials a similar increase. Those eight officials, or their designees, make up the Budget Board.
The motion to extend the raises to elected officials was made by Undersheriff Tim Albin and seconded by Treasurer Dennis Semler. County Commissioners Fred Perry and Karen Keith also voted for the pay increases for elected officials.
Commission Chairman John Smaligo, County Assessor Ken Yazel, County Clerk Earlene Wilson and Court Clerk Sally Howe Smith opposed the motion.
The county's elected officials make $100,387 a year but under state law are eligible for raises in excess of 2 percent.
Smaligo, who is the Budget Board's chairman, proposed giving nonelected county employees raises.
"My belief is that we have gone, for the majority of our employees, over four years without a pay increase, and a 2 percent increase that is part of this proposal I thought was a modest opportunity for us to address that," he said.
County employees whose salaries have increased during that time because of promotions or reclassifications are still eligible for the 2 percent raise. Those who have received performance-based pay increases in the past four years are not.
The raises don't apply to Tulsa City-County Library, Tulsa City-County Health Department or Expo Square workers.
Tom Gerard, the county's fiscal director, estimated after the meeting that the raises would cost the county about $500,000 this fiscal year.
The figure is lower than might otherwise be expected because not every county employee is eligible for the raise and only seven months remain in the fiscal year.
The raises are to be paid out of the county's general fund.
The motion to approve the raises included language stating that each elected official can distribute the raises as he or she deems appropriate.
Two elected officials - Wilson and Semler - declined to accept the Budget Board's allocation and will instead fund the increases for their employees out of their cash reserves.
Semler said he has lost several of his best employees to high-paying jobs in the private sector and that it is essential that the county invest in its employees.
"I just don't think we are doing the taxpayers a service to not retain quality, experienced, seasoned employees," he said. "It is going to be extremely difficult to recruit quality applicants if they become aware that there has not been a raise here in 4 1/2 years.
"Why would somebody with a good education and a strong work ethic want to come to work here if that is the expectation?"
Albin, who initially recommended 3 percent pay increases for county employees, said the elected officials also deserved to have their salaries increased.
Albin is not elected.
"For the amount of responsibility and the job that you guys do - Monday through Sunday, nights, weekends, holidays, brush fires - and the amount of liability and risks you take on personally," you deserve a raise, he said.
Original Print Headline: County workers due raises
Kevin Canfield 918-581-8313