Cache County Council adopts 2012 budget and salaries

The Cache County Council approved salaries and budgets for 2012 at a meeting Tuesday night. The county had debt payments budgeted for 2012 but paid off this debt early, therefore $250,000 of the budget could be allocated elsewhere. After much discussion and debate, the council decided to use this money to give some county employees and elected officials a pay raise for 2012. This raise will be given to employees based on merit at the discretion of their department heads. County council officials have already voted to not take pay raises for themselves this year. County Executive Lynn Lemon also talked to each department in the county government and asked them to look at their budgets, trimming any money that wasn’t vital to the department. Lemon was able to free up $300,000 from the 2012 budget this way. Tuesday night, the council decided to hold off on allocating this money until July 1. In the months leading to July, human relations personnel will create a plan to best distribute the money to employees, whether through step grades, promotions or some other means. Next July, the council will look at how actual revenues are comparing with the 2012 budget. If the county is generating revenue as expected, the $300,000 will be distributed among employees according to the plan by human relations. Several officers from the Cache County Sheriff’s office were in attendance Tuesday evening, clapping when council member Gordon Zilles said the council needs to take care of its employees, and shaking their heads when council member Val Potter urged the council to be cautious when distributing the $300,000, saying that creating a financial obligation now without certainty of being able to sustain such an addition to the budget in the future was unwise. “The fact of the matter is we’re trying to be prudent with the organization we have to manage and govern, and I think that’s what we try to do in flat revenue years. I think the people who elected us, and the people who oversee the county, are wanting to see us do something that’s wise, short and long term,” Potter said. Potter also said that since this last year was a flat revenue year, increasing spending in the 2012 budget was risky. He warned that if the budget doesn’t increase in the next few years and they have allocated money for county workers’ raises, the county could become “shackled” with the financial responsibility. Waiting until July 1 to actually distribute any of the 300,000 was an effort to appease employees, by showing them that the council recognizes their value and would like to give them a raise if the funds prove to be available, while at the same time easing the minds of the council by not creating a financial obligation it might not be able to fulfill. Many Cache County Sheriff’s Office employees left the meeting dissatisfied with the results. County council members didn’t completely agree on the salary decisions – two voted against the plan for the $250,000 and another two members voted against the plan for the $300,000 – but they all seemed to agree that any money from the budget that can be spared should go to the salaries of county employees. – rachel@cvdaily.com

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