Originally Published: December 25, 2015 6 a.m.
During the final budget talks back in July, the Yavapai County Board of Supervisors approved an across-the-board 2 percent raise for all county employees. Yavapai County Finance Director Dan Rusing was not in his current position at that time, but he said the board looked at whether the action was appropriate and affordable, and decided it was.
"They chose to mitigate the effects of the raise by having it go into effect in January," Rusing said. "If the county were doing real, real good, it would have been a lot more."
The history of employee raises going back to fiscal year 2002-03 shows healthy raises for six years straight of between 2 and 6 percent Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) and an average of 2.6 percent merit increase each year. Department heads receive enough money to give each of their employees a 2.6 percent merit raise, but can determine the amount per person between 1 and 3 percent.
Beginning in fiscal year 2008-09, however, everything came to a halt and county employees, like many other people, did not receive raises for the next three years.
A 2 percent COLA increase took place in fiscal year 2011-2012 and an average 2.6 percent merit raise the following year. This past fiscal year, employees received a mere 1 percent COLA, but the supervisors also instituted "compression raises," as they did in fiscal year 2011-12.
Compression raises are an adjustment to wages which rewards length of service. Those employees hired less than two years before the beginning of the fiscal year did not receive a bump in pay. Two to four years employment received a 1 percent raise; four to six years received 2 percent; and more than six years employment with the county received 3 percent.
So a person hired 10 years ago, in fiscal year 2004-05, at $10 per hour would be making $13.64 as of Jan. 1, 2016, if he or she received the average merit pay raise whenever the county gave them, plus all other across-the-board raises.
County Administrator Phil Bourdon said he thought the cost of this year's COLA was about a half million dollars.
Follow Sue Tone on Twitter @ToneNotes. Reach her at 928-445-3333, ext. 2043, or 928-642-7867.