Should all Allegany County wage increases keep pace with inflation ?
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By Andrew Harris
The issue of the week in Allegany county government is payroll. On Wednesday, legislators will be faced with resolutions to increase the salary of county directors, department heads, and deputies. A public hearing for the eighteen positions that we published last week will undoubtably include many strong opinions.
The debate is heating up on all sides: Legislators are far from united on the subject. The county union labor force is notably irked. County administrators are worried about retention with many job openings still unfilled. Many feel the pay increases acknowledge that for too long Allegany County talent has been underpaid when compared to other counties.
Almost every argument on the subject makes a valid point, while acknowledging this is a complex compensation matrix. Some management jobs require a public hearing, many do not. Several elected officials, like the county sheriff, are not up for a raise because it is an election year. The county has four different unions, all with different contracts in place for different time periods. It is a basket of apples, oranges, a few pears, making “apples to apples” analysis just about impossible.
Legislators will need to thread a very fine needle in order to keep key employees from seeking greener pastures and to maintain morale among the ranks.
As it stands, the average pay increase for department heads is well over the rate of inflation, which stands at about 8%. Based on the current county union contracts, no union job in Allegany County will be recieving a wage raise over 3% in 2023. Some of the eighteen wage increases which require the public hearing are more than double the rate of inflation. Those numbers do not include benefit packages like medical insurance.
The cost of living is impacting everyone, but the reality of “white-collar” raises over compensating for inflation and “blue-collar” raises failing to keep pace is making many in the county uneasy.
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