County employees receive 1.6 percent raise

Elizabeth Trexler-News-Herald

Loudon County Circuit Court Clerk Lisa Niles' employees were lining up Monday night to tell Loudon County Commission they "deserve equal pay" - meaning what someone with the same experience, and in the same position, earns in another county department.

In previous requests before the Budget Committee, Niles sought $17,000 to equalize pay for her employees. The committee denied the request on July 25, but the issue still came before the full commission Monday night.

Stephanie Holt, Amanda Smith, Lisa Bridges, Tonya Millsaps and Penny Glasgow all spoke to the commission, expressed their desire to receive pay equal to that of other county employees who have the same number of years of service.

Holt makes per year $22,172.80 with five years of service in general sessions, she told the commission. "The county clerk pays their employee with five years of service $29,120."

"We've tried everything," said Commissioner Earlena Maples. "The head of that department decides (what to do with money for raises). It's not the taxpayers' responsibility to keep funding and funding."

"County Commission didn't create these inconsistencies," Commissioner Don Miller said.
The County Commission took no action on the request.

Commissioner Bob Franke said Loudon County Mayor Estelle Herron has appointed a committee to look at the pay and benefits for county employees. In the meantime, Franke suggested Niles look at her budget and see if the money could come from elsewhere in the budget.

"She has that option any time," Franke said.

A 1.6 percent wage increase for all non-elected county employees passed with a 9-1 vote.

Commissioners voted 8-2 to increase county employees' share of health insurance premiums from 10 percent to 12 percent.

Commissioners rejected by a 4-6 vote a requirement that workers pay 15 percent of the premium, with a 3 percent increase each year until the employee is paying a 30 percent share.

The commission also passed a retiree insurance plan that would pay half of the basic plan premium. However, if the retiree wants the "plus" plan, he or she would have to pay the difference.

The commission also:
Passed a multi-year contract with Waste Services of Tennessee;
Voted to send a letter to the Board of Education asking it to look at charging tuition for out-of-county students;
Voted to send a letter from the Air Quality Task Force to the city mayors regarding complaints about ash particles from Kimberly-Clark;
Approved board and committee appointments;
Voted to send a letter to state Rep. Jimmy Matlock concerning a traffic study and placement of a red light at Highway 11 and Sugarlimb Road; and
Elected bonds and notaries.

The next commission workshop will be held 6 p.m. Aug. 22 at the county offices. It will be followed by a special called meeting regarding an industry which wishes to come to Loudon County.

According to Herron, it could bring 400-1,200 jobs to the area.