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1:28 PM Mon, Nov. 19th

Supervisors consider raises, tentative budget adoption Monday<BR>

PRESCOTT – Yavapai County supervisors are considering giving their employees raises despite facing a tight budget.

They aren't hiring any new people during this fiscal year that began Tuesday, yet employees are facing ever-increasing workloads because of the continuing population rise, County Administrator Jim Holst said.

So supervisors are considering a 2.8 percent across-the-board salary increase plus the opportunity for another 1-percent merit increase. The county has about 1,300 employees in the compensation program. Supervisors also are thinking about covering a 3.2-percent increase in Arizona State Retirement System costs for employees in that system.

Supervisor Lorna Street said the merit pay system is a good idea. Otherwise, "those who are really excelling don't get any credit for it."

Supervisor Gheral Brownlow said he needs to see more budget information before deciding how to vote.

"I think a flat 6 percent is tough for us in tough economic times," Board of Supervisors Chair Chip Davis said.

If the county was a private business, it would be considering layoffs, not raises, Davis said.

Since the supervisors have to decide on a maximum budget size Monday when adopting a tentative budget, Holst suggested they set aside enough money for the raises and benefits in a contingency account. Then supervisors will have a few more months to decide what to do with it.

Human Resources Director Julie Ayers gave supervisors a list of what other counties are doing.

Pima and LaPaz counties don't plan to give employees any kind of raises. Maricopa is covering only the retirement cost increase, and Coconino is only giving employees a one-time $500 bonus.

The supervisors' Monday meeting will begin at 9:30 a.m. at the county administration building in Prescott, 1015 Fair St.

The tentative adoption of a $176 million budget, plus votes on salaries for employees and department heads, are scheduled for 1 p.m., following lunch. Late in the morning, the supervisors plan to conduct an executive session closed to the public to talk about department heads' salaries.

The supervisors plan to set the county property tax rate in a few more weeks, then adopt a final budget during their Aug. 4 meeting, directly after conducting a public hearing.

Other items on this Monday's agenda include:

• 9:30 a.m. – Consider a request from the Trust for Public Land and Central Arizona Land Trust for county sponsorship of a $500,000 application to the Arizona Transportation Enhancement Program for the "Save Young's Farm" project, along with a letter of support.

• 10:30 a.m. – Consider approving the road upgrade long-range plan for fiscal years 2003-04 through 2007-08.

The entire agenda is posted at county office buildings, and on the county's Web site at www.co.yavapai.az.us.

Contact the reporter at jdodder@prescottaz.com