The Vance County commissioners completed their planning retreat on Thursday, Mar. 3 and prioritized five goals for the coming year, which remain in draft form until they are formally approved at the April board meeting.
County Manager Jordan McMillen told WIZS News that all indications are that the five priorities will be:
Other takeaways that McMillen noted following the retreat include the positive financial position the county finds itself in, which will help the county be able to bring employee salaries more in line with the market.
“This speaks to our fund balance (unassigned fund balance of 44 percent of expenditures) and also the increases we have seen in sales tax revenue the past few years which we are hopeful will position us to implement our recent salary study with the new budget July 1,” McMillen said.
The board must approve the salary plan before it goes into effect. “As we work budget, we intend to be in position to approve the salary study at our June meeting to be effective with the new budget,” McMillen said.
He cited some details of the salary study, noting that 82 percent of salaries “are closer to the minimum and have not progressed to the midpoint or the maximum of the pay grade.” If and when the plan is approved, “employees’ salaries would be slotted where they belong along the pay range according to the market and our starting salaries will move up as well across the board,” he explained.
Neighboring counties have conducted similar studies in the past year or so, which impacts Vance County’s ability to effectively recruit and retain employees, McMillen added.
“Economic development remains the top goal and priority for our board,” he said. “A major part of this effort is continuing to develop our industrial park and looking toward a possible shell building in the future.” McMillen said more information about this topic will be announced at the commissioners’ meeting Monday, Mar. 7.
During the retreat, the group discussed the need to work together with neighboring counties to strengthen regionalism and support regional efforts.
The county’s effort over the past five years to return foreclosed and other properties to the tax rolls has been successful, McMillen said. In that period, 116 properties have been returned to the tax rolls, which is the equivalent of returning $830,000 in value to the tax rolls.
The county took in more than $300,000 in revenue for these properties, he said.
Vance County commissioners and county staff have gathered today (Thursday) for its annual planning retreat to discuss upcoming priorities, review goals and talk about results of a recent salary and benefits study of county jobs.
It began at 9 a.m. today and was scheduled to conclude at 2 p.m., according to information from County Manager Jordan McMillen.
The retreat was rescheduled from an earlier date so the salary study could be completed. John C. Rose perused the 51-page agenda that McMillen had prepared for the retreat, and said the first topic of conversation was the salary and benefits study, which was presented to commissioners.
Also on the agenda was a recap of the county’s financial condition and fiscal outlook presented by Finance Director Katherine Bigelow.
There are numerous openings within county government and law enforcement that have yet to be filled, including 16 at the detention center and 8 within the sheriff’s office. There are 32 openings at the Department of Social Services and a dozen openings within the EMS system.
Whether qualified candidates simply aren’t looking in Vance County or not considering working here because the pay isn’t competitive with other areas, the fact remains that there are openings that need to be filled.
The salary study included information about employee outreach, current conditions, review of compensation and having an updated pay plan, according to information in the agenda.
Some of the goals that were scheduled to be discussed included the following: