The Glynn County Finance Committee punted to the full Glynn County Commission a proposal to effectively cut all county employees a $1,000 check.
County employees received a 2.5 to 3 percent annual raise over the past several years as a cost-of-living adjustment, said County Manager Alan Ours. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, which resulted in widespread economic shutdowns, this year’s budget did not include raises. Neither did it include the funds for merit raises or career track promotions.
The local economy has recovered nicely since the fiscal year 2020-2021 budget was approved in June, Ours said. Bed taxes and sales taxes are up, the county budget is stabilized and there’s high hope for recent news of impending COVID-19 vaccinations. County Commissioner Allen Booker noticed this, Ours said, and approached him about revisiting the matter. In the middle of the fiscal year, he said handing out one-time payments would be easier than applying raises retroactively.
At Tuesday’s finance committee meeting, Commissioner Bill Brunson said the one-time payments would also be more equitable as a 2.2 percent increase is larger for those who make more money. Due to the ongoing pandemic and the economic repercussions, he and other commissioners wanted the county’s lower-paid employees to get as much as those with larger salaries.
“Our employees that make the least should get the same amount,” Brunson said.
For tax purposes, each county employee would get a roughly $1,225 boost to one paycheck to account for taxes and Medicare, Ours said.
In total, the proposal would cost the county $1.23 million for 1,000 county employees. Federal aid from the CARES Act would cover roughly $370,400 of it, according to county Chief Financial Officer Tamara Munson.
It’s not without precedent. The county commission did something similar in 2012, Ours said, following the Great Recession of 2008.
Brunson, Booker and Commissioner David O’Quinn, the three members of the finance committee, voted to place the proposal on the county commission’s next meeting agenda rather than making a recommendation.
Committee members also voted 3-0 Tuesday to recommend contracting with Bryant Appraisal and Consulting Services for right-of-way deed evaluation, negotiation and acquisition services for infrastructure and federal aid projects, among other things, at a rate of $63 per hour with a 58-cent-per-mile transportation reimbursement rate.
In a memo, county engineer Paul Andrews asked the committee to recommend using a clause in county ordinances to bypass the contract bidding process. The broad range of services provided and the company’s 19-year history doing similar work for the county justify it, he said.
Andrews said the company’s owner, John Bryant, worked for the Georgia Department of Transportation’s right-of-way department before taking a job with Glynn County to work on right-of-way acquisition. After retiring, Bryant was retained on contract to do the same work one to two days a week.
Brunson said he agreed with the request based on the extensive and specialized knowledge of the job as it pertains to Glynn County in particular.
“If you look at this thing, we’re thinking about 56 (services Bryant provides),” Brunson said. “They obviously have a level of credibility with us, or they wouldn’t have been here this long.”
In other business, the committee unanimously recommended partnering with the developer of a senior living community at the intersection of Altama Avenue and Buckingham Place to install a new traffic signal.
Traffic to and from the 80-unit development will necessitate a signal at the intersection, Community Development Director Pamela Thompson told committee members. The county would pay $150,000 while the developer has agreed to pitch in $50,000.
“That’s a pretty bad intersection to get out of. It’s almost impossible, so I’m glad to see we’re looking at this,” said Chairman Booker.
The committee also recommended amending a contract with its online credit card payment processor to lower the convenience fee for online transactions from 3 percent to 2.75 percent. The fee will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2021.