CONYERS - The Rockdale County Board of Commissioners (BOC) approved raising the county's pay range in order to compete with surrounding areas when it comes to hiring new employees.
The pay scale increase was unanimously approved as part of a consent agenda at the Tuesday meeting.
During its work session last week, the board heard a proposal that would raise the maximum pay of salaries by 5 percent, which would make the minimum to maximum pay range of employees 40 percent.
Rockdale County Chairman and CEO Richard Oden said that raising the ceiling on the pay scale would give department directors "more tools" to use when negotiating with prospective employees.
"What we find is that when we go out and interview people, we find out that our range is so low," Oden said during the work session.
According to a study done in 2013, salary offers made to potential employees in the county were 7 percent below fair market value, Rockdale County Human Resources Director Darryl Bowie told the board. While a new study has not been completed since, Bowie added that salary offers are now about 3 percent below market rate.
"It's still going to keep us under the market, but we're getting closer to the market," Oden said of the increase. "This gives us a little more power to negotiate more effectively and be a little more competitive in the marketplace."
Employees' salaries have been a major issue among the board dating back to last year.
During budget discussions for 2015, there were several proposals on how the county could increase current employees' salaries. The board opted to implement a salary incentive plan, which will pay employees a 4 percent increase based on performance evaluations.
Post 1 County Commissioner Oz Nesbitt initially didn't agree with this proposal. Instead, he wanted to give all employees a 5 percent raise beginning this year, and then begin to use a performance evaluation to determine future pay raises. He used this moment to advocate for the 5 percent raise again.
Oden offered his own perspective on what will help county and community employee salaries in the long run.
"What fixes this whole issue is (a) clean and beautiful Conyers, economic development, and getting more business, commercial retail and capital stuff in this community to raise that tax digest base," he said.