By Stan Welch
The men on the Anderson County Council gave third reading approval to the 2018-2019 budget Tuesday night. The two female members, however were not as supportive. District Two Councilwoman Gracie Floyd voted against the budget after an interminable rant against it, while District Seven Councilwoman Cindy Wilson abstained.
Floyd began with a rabid rebuttal of comments made by Councilwoman Wilson at an earlier meeting; comments that claimed that the policies of former councils and the previous administrator had brought the county to the brink of bankruptcy. Floyd passionately challenged Wilson’s claims, essentially calling her a liar.
Councilman Tom Allen took the floor next, explaining that his administration policy/rules committee had focused on six major points concerning employees.
Those points include a salary adjustment based on a comparison of current wages and benefits with those of surrounding counties, as well as private industry. Tied to that issue was the question of job evaluations and job descriptions. Work on both those matters is underway and should be completed by the end of July.
A change in the policy affecting county employees who retire and then resume work for the county is likely, with such retirees beginning at the bottom of the wage and benefit ladder upon returning. An update of the policy handbook is also slated, and a major overhaul of what Allen dubbed a “very lenient” policy on sick leave and vacation time accumulation is also planned.
Floyd then began her second allotted segment of the agenda with a long diatribe against the council and its handling of the budget process. Floyd was especially incensed with the proposal to give employees a raise, but to administer it over a two year period. Floyd also complained once more about the lack of budget workshops, her preferred method for producing a budget. Other council members defended the extensive use of the council’s standing committees to address the various departments’ budget needs. Floyd requested and received an additional five minutes after her allotted fifteen minutes expired. But when she sought an additional ten minutes, the council, most of whom she had included in her rant, declined to approve the extension.
Her amendment to provide the entire raise in this budget, a move which would require a two mill tax increase, was defeated by a vote of one to six.
Eventually the budget received final approval by a vote of 6-1-1 with Floyd opposed and Wilson abstaining. The budget requires a tax increase of approximately seven hundred fifty thousand dollars. Those funds will be used as the first step towards a program that will serve to provide $2.2 million a year for replacement of county vehicles in every department, not just the sheriff’s office, as in the past.
By Stan Welch