A proposal before the Aiken County Council would give each County employee at least a $1,000 salary raise without an increase in millage.
The proposal was presented by Councilwoman Kathy Rawls during the Council's budget work session on Monday.
The proposal would increase the salary range for Aiken County employees by 10 percent – a cost of $520,000. It would also adjust the grades in the Sheriff's Office, the detention center and EMS, at a cost of $378,000. Lastly, the proposal would assure every employee “at least” a $1,000 increase in salary, at a cost of $400,000 to $500,000.
Rawls said the three parts of the proposal are meant to work “in order” to give each employee at least a $1,000 raise.
“If they didn't get at least a $1,000 raise in the first two, they'd get it in the third,” she said.
The total revenue needed for the proposal would be between $1,278,000 and $1,378,000.
Rawls wrote in the proposal that it costs the least to implement, and would have the biggest impact on the most employees.
“It can be implemented without a millage increase using monies from salary under run and other revenue discussed earlier,” she wrote.
The proposal will be discussed and voted on at tonight's regularly-scheduled Council meeting, during which Council will also have the third reading for the budget for next fiscal year.
Council members and County officials have gone back and forth for the past couple of months exploring options within the $56.9 million proposed budget to fund salary increases. Aiken County Sheriff Michael Hunt has asked for a millage increase specifically for law enforcement. He proposed a law enforcement millage of 4 mills that could bring in a potential $2.3 million, equalling a 20 percent salary increase for Sheriff's Office employees.
“It will only affect those at the bottom (of the salary range), essentially,” Rawls said on Monday, adding that it would get the starting salary for a sheriff's deputy up to $36,215. “... This doesn't totally solve our problem by any means, but it's a start. And we need to address it again next year. We can't solve it all this year.”
Hunt agreed that it was a start.
“I think everybody realizes we've got to start somewhere. It's a step in the right direction,” he said. “We'll take what Council gives us.”
The final reading of the proposed budget will be held at 7 p.m. in Council Chambers on the third floor of the Aiken County Government Center, located at 1930 University Parkway.
Teddy Kulmala covers the crime beat for the Aiken Standard and has been with the newspaper since August 2012. He is a native of Williston and majored in communication studies at Clemson University.