Fiscal court approves raise for all county employees

Published 8:29 am Friday, June 14, 2024

The Bell County Fiscal court approved the second reading and adoption of the budget for fiscal year 2024-25 at their June meeting on Tuesday as well as a 50-cent per hour raise for all county employees starting in July.

The $21 million budget is about $3 million less than last year. Magistrate Eddie Saylor asked if the difference was simply due to the state funds that passed through the county for the Flash Steelworks project last year.

“Our local revenue has basically stayed the same, hasn’t it?” he asked.

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Judge Executive Albey Brock said that was the case.

“Where we had all that Flash money in there last year, that changed it,” Brock said. “Hopefully we’ll get more in and have to do a budget amendment.”

The budget was approved unanimously as well as measures to set the salaries and pay rates for all employees, adopt the Bell County Fiscal Court Administrative Code with no changes and the Bell County Jail Policy and Procedures Manual with no changes.

The hourly raise for all county employees also was approved unanimously.

“I like that because when I worked for the city of Middlesboro we would get percentage raises and the people who were already making a lot of money got an (even bigger raise),” Magistrate Glenn Webb said. “Across the board that’s the best way to go.”

Brock agreed that was the most fair way to do the pay raise.

The court also approved a series of payments for work done at the Flash Steelworks. Those included $74,399.61 to DelMae, LLC for Invoice #9, $2,254.10 to JMT for Invoice #14, $31,150.00 to Total Electric for Invoice #9671 and $316,976.41 to Green Construction Company for Invoice #15.

Earlier in the meeting, Saylor asked Brock how things were progressing at Flash Steel.

“It’s going real good, no changes. Everything is lit and waiting for them to start. It’s going smooth,” Brock said.

When asked, he guessed that the building was about 80-percent completed with work still being done on the inside of the building.

Also during audience participation, Mr. Henry Root said that Saylor asked more questions during one meeting than the other magistrates ask in a whole year.

“I’m not trying to put you down or anything, I know you’ve got a lot on you. But the public would like for you all to speak up and ask some questions,” Root said.

“We’re listening to the meeting and if we agree with everything then there’s no reason to ask questions,” Magistrate Glenn Webb said. “What are you trying to say?”

Brock said he thought Root was trying to say that “we’re doing a really good job.”

Root said his issue was that the public didn’t always understand what the magistrates were agreeing to.

“We communicate with each other throughout the month,” Brock said. “We come here to conduct the business and whether we do it in 15 minutes or we do it in 30 minutes, that’s something the public should be proud of. We’re collectively doing what you’ve hired us to do.”

Root said he wasn’t claiming the magistrates were doing a bad job.

“Most of the people don’t understand that. They just see them voting yes or no and that’s that,” he said. “They need to show up like I am so if they have questions they’ll get addressed.”

Brock said that when any of the magistrates get a question from one of their constituents they pick up the phone and call to get their question answered.

“They don’t want to wait until next month’s meeting to find out when we can get someone to work on their drainage tile that’s been washed out or whatever,” Webb said. “You’ve got to do whatever right then when the public asks you to do it.”

Brock said the current court is made up of a “very responsive group of magistrates.”

“They are constantly calling on behalf of the folks that have elected them,” he said.

In other business, the court:

— Conducted public hearings for County Road Aid (CRA) and Local Government Economic Assistance (LGEA). There were no comments for either program.

— Accepted Capps Road into the Bell County Road System in District 1.

— Approved Emergency Budget Amendment #7 to reflect revenue from New Market Tax Credits for the Flash Steelworks project.

— Appointed Daniel Lamb as Bell County Road Supervisor at $20.50 per hour effective retroactively to June 6, 2024.

— Changed the rate of pay by 3.4% for Bell County Attorney Chris Douglas to reflect the change in the consumer price index as required by statute effective the first pay period of July 2024.

— Hired Christopher Mason and Nick Powers as full-time employees at the Bell County Road Department at $13.00 per hour effective June 13, 2024.

— Changed Alexandra Baker from part-time EMT to full-time EMT effective June 20, 2024.

— Accepted checks in the amount of $109,493.50 from Sheriff Mitch Williams and in the amount of $30,413.73 from County Clerk Debbie Gambrel.