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Butler County approves pay raises in hopes of retaining and attracting good employees

Late last year, the county approved $1.6 million in wage and benefits increases out of the general fund, and some of that money — there are employees paid out of the general fund in other elected officials’ offices — will go to the 143 employees under the commissioners’ direct control.

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The plan awards base pay and lump sum bonus increases based on performance evaluations. If employees are at the top of their pay range, they can only receive a lump sum bonus portion of the pay plan. There were 14 employees in that category this year.

Commissioners have used iterations of the plan for their people for several years, but in 2016 they received buy-in from most office holders to do their two-part compensation package.

Although the county had to cut $2 million out of the 2019 budget earmarked for the rainy day fund — the fund stands at $10 million now — Commissioner Don Dixon said it made a commitment to employees the pay plan would stand and raises were budgeted.

“Overall it’s still a great program, it’s good for our employees, it’s good for our taxpayers,” Dixon said. “It’s just a win-win for everybody.”

The commissioners committed to three years of funding the whole plan, but that commitment expires this year. Retired County Administrator Charlie Young said the county would stick to the plan “unless things fell apart, and luckily they didn’t fall apart, and we are able to stay with that commitment” about this year’s raises.

Keeping good employees who know what they are doing — especially in an office that handles of millions in taxpayer dollars — is crucial, according to county Treasurer Nancy Nix.

“In my office it can take a year to get somebody fully trained,” she said. “You’ve got to know what you’re doing and making simple mistakes can throw everything off and can get taxpayers very upset … it’s a balancing act, you want to attract and retain good employees, you want to pay them enough to meet their expenses every year that are rising.”

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The employees under the commissioners’ control include central office staff like the finance and human resources directors, Children Services, Job and Family Services, child support enforcement, development, information technology and the Water and Sewer Department.

Development Director David Fehr was slated to get a 2.5 percent increase in each category under the plan, but that was before the commissioners named him acting county administrator while they look for a replacement for Charlie Young who just retired. The commissioners approved a $125,000 salary for Fehr last week.

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