County workers to see 3 percent more in paycheck


By Kevin Spradlin

ROCKINGHAM — All of Richmond County government’s employees can expect to see 3 percent more in their paychecks next fiscal year, which begins July 1, after commissioners approved a 1 percent across-the-board pay raise.

No, that’s not fuzzy math. The commissioners and County Manager Rick Sago also eliminated the five furlough days implemented in the current fiscal year, which amounted to a 2 percent pay cut. Those furlough days have been eliminated and the 1 percent raise was approved Monday night as the commissioners voted 6-0 to adopt the FY 2014-15 budget.

The last-minute 1 percent pay raise was the brain child of Commissioner Thad Ussery. During the budget work session earlier Monday afternoon, Ussery suggested that a 1 percent raise “would help morale” among county workers.

He noted that county workers have hardly complained during the mandated furlough period.

Sago didn’t hesitate in his response.

“For me to do it,” he said, “I’d have to take it out of fund balance.”

The commissioners later on approved the raise, which added $156,910 to a budget already stretched thin. Ussery went on to suggest a pay increase of up to 3 percent, but other commissioners talked him down.

“If we can afford it, I’d like 2 percent,” Ussery said.

Sago again was quick to reply.

“Nothing would make me happier,” he said, than a raise of 2, 3 or even percent. However, “1 percent we can deal with. If it gets above 1 percent …”

As Ussery began to continue talk of a higher increase, chairman Kenneth Robinette and others tried to stop it before it got started.

“Calm down there,” Robinette said to a room-wide chuckle.

Commissioner Ben Moss expressed concern that the county might be painting itself into a corner of mandatory furlough days. Sago was noncommittal.

“I can’t see into the future,” Sago said. “You can’t continue to run on furlough days.”

The adopted budget shows a total of $48,377,390 in both expenditures and revenue. When Sago first was handed the budget, it was some $4.6 million in the red. It was balanced, Sago said, through a mix of fund balance ($1.66 million), cuts from departmental requests ($1.56 million) and other funds ($1.4 million).

“I kept anything that was absolutely necessary,” Sago said.

A 5 percent water rate increase and a new minimum monthly charge of $20.70 will help pay for an increase in chemicals and water for that service, Sago said. Sago and other county officials noted the county’s water rate is still below average across the state.

A copy of the adopted budget is expected to be placed online as soon as Tuesday at




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