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County workers may get pay raise

By By Clif Knight, Hartselle Enquirer
Morgan County elected officials and employees will take home more money after Oct. 1 if commissioners approve a preliminary budget.
The proposed budget provides for a 5 percent cost of living adjustment of which all employees as well as elected officials would be eligible to receive beginning Oct. 1. The amount was based on a 4.2 percent increase in the nation’s Consumer Price Index through May 2009. During that time energy costs were up 17.4 percent and food up 5 percent.
In addition, employees who qualify under the guidelines of a new performance-based evaluation system will receive a 3 percent pay increase after June 1, 2009.
The maximum reimbursement rate payable to employees traveling in privately owned vehicles on official business were also increased. After July 1, the rate changed from 48.5 to 58.5 cents per mile, or the maximum state rate.
The employee contribution for healthcare insurance will increase, however. Employees and elected officials will pay $5 per month more for single coverage and $10 a month more for family coverage.
The commission also approved a 14-day paid holiday schedule for employees, unchanged from 2007-08, and a payment of $184,515 to Lloyds of London for re-insurance with a $75,000 deductible, effective Aug. 1 to July 31, 2009.
In the first budget review session, discussion centered on a commitment of local matching funds for a new juvenile detention center and appropriation requests from non-profit organizations.
Outgoing District 4 commissioner Stacy George said at the beginning of the session that he was totally committed to putting $500,000 in the budget for a juvenile center. He repeated the request several times before the commission agreed to put that amount in the budget as a reserve line item and only use it only as a local match for a state or federal grant.
It was the consensus of the governing body that the Hartselle-Morgan County Airport (former Rountree Field) should receive an appropriation of $15,000 in the new fiscal year even though no formal request was made.
Outgoing District 3 commissioner Kevin Murphy said the money is needed to help upgrade the airport so that it will be an asset in the recruitment of new industry to a proposed industrial park between Hartselle and Falkville.
In addition, other appropriations reflecting increases are listed as follows: Morgan County Economic Development Association, from $100,000 to $200,000; Morgan County Rescue Squad, from $22,500 to $45,000; Wheeler Basin Regional Library, from $89,012 to $100,000; and Morgan County Child Advocacy Center, from $2,500 to $5,000.
A $50,000 appropriation to the Decatur-Morgan County Chamber of Commerce -the third installment of a $250,000 commitment to attract BRAC families to Morgan County—drew strong criticism from both George and Murphy.

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