|Commissioners eye high turnover rate, low pay scale for county’s clerical workers|
|Kerry Craig | News-Telegram Assistant Editor|
May 24, 2006 -- Hopkins County commissioners, concerned with a high turnover rate in clerical positions in county offices, have begun looking for ways to compete with the private sector and offer better compensation, according to County Judge Cletis Millsap.
With pay rates ranging from just over $8 an hour for the lowest level clerk to a high of $11 an hour for a clerk II, the county is considerably below that offered by private businesses and other counties, according to the county judge.
"We have found in our research that, when comparing our clerk positions with other counties and with local businesses, some of these people have left and gone to other positions in the community for more money," Millsap said.
Commissioners met earlier this week with the district clerk, county clerk, tax collector and sheriff's office to look at the salary structure and employee classifications to get a better idea of how the county can better compete with the private sector in keeping employees.
In the current county budget, the lower classification of clerical employees, responsible for handling legal and court documents, have been paid at a lower rate than comparable positions in the four commissioner precincts maintaining roads.
Millsap said the clerical positions, with the sensitive documents they handle, are in a unique position.
"In the courthouse, the clerks are very important because of the legal system," he said. "The legal system today requires specialized training in order to handle the necessary paperwork so that you don't find yourself in violation of the law."
Two specialized areas focused on by commissioners were the county and district clerk's offices that must stay constantly updated with changes in the law.
Every two years the legislature adds new changes to the law and counties must comply with the changes.
"The county clerk, just like the district clerk, are two specialized areas that have to be on top of the law and the changes that are made so they can properly file those documents and have a disposition made by the judge," Millsap said. "They work hand-in-hand with the judge ... it is a very specialized job."
A similar situation exists in the tax assessor/collector's office where, each year, employees must undergo training to keep up with changes in the law.
The pay scale for employees in the sheriff's office is somewhat higher than other offices because of a public referendum several years ago in which voters mandated the higher pay scale.
County commissioners are looking into the possibility of making some adjustments in the rates of pay for the first three classifications of clerical employees in the coming budget.
"At this time, we don't know how much that will be because we don't know how much money we will have to work with," Millsap said. "Currently, we start a clerk I position out at $8.40 an hour, or just more than $17,000 a year, and the clerk II position starts at $9 an hour and can go up to $11 an hour."
Millsap said commissioners court members would continue to look into the situation as they begin the first of the series of workshop sessions leading up to formulating the county's budget for fiscal year 2007.