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3 county departments seek more pay, workers

[08/15/01] An increase in funds to give employee pay raises and to hire new employees led the wish lists for several Warren County offices at budget hearings Tuesday.

The tax collector’s office, the sheriff’s department and the tax assessor’s office asked the Board of Supervisors for more money for employees and hiring as their main priorities.

“I need more money for help,” Tax Collector Pat Simrall said. “I’m asking for a 5 percent increase. My folks are being paid less than in other like counties.”

Simrall said she is asking for the across-the-board for the office’s nine employees.

“It’s embarrassing how little they make for what they have to put up with,” Simrall said. “I feel they are underpaid.”

Salaries for employees in the tax collector’s office range from $15,000 to $30,000, and Simrall is asking for $750 to $1,500 more a year per employee.

She also said the office has $5,000 set aside for computer upgrades and is interested in purchasing a software program to add efficiency.

She said the office also has $12,000 set aside for overtime pay but has not had to dip into those funds since she has been there in 1993.

Tax Assessor Richard Holland asked for a 10 percent increase in salaries for all employees and a $1,000 increase for three who have advanced their educational level.

The tax assessor’s office employs nine people, and salaries range from $20,000 year to $50,000 a year, Holland said.

District 4 Supervisor Bill Lauderdale said if jobs don’t call for a higher education level, people in those jobs shouldn’t expect higher pay if they have degrees.

“We don’t need to train employees at one level, but keep them working at the minimum level,” Lauderdale said. “Every employee doesn’t have to have the highest education level available. Everybody is trying to take advantage of that to up their salaries.”

Warren County Sheriff Martin Pace also expressed a need for more employees in the sheriff’s department.

“Expectations of the public continue to rise,” Pace said. “We are expected to be a full-service agency. The needs we have today exceed the needs we had a few years ago.”

Pace said the county would be adjusting the pay scale for the law enforcement division to bring salaries more in line with what surrounding agencies make.

“The only way to get and maintain professional, well-trained deputies is to offer them pay that is comparable with law enforcement everywhere else,” Pace said.

He said adjustments in pay will also bring salaries closer to those at the Vicksburg Police Department.

Deputies for Warren County start out at $23,118 a year after training and a six-month probationary period. First year Vicksburg police officers make $24,586 and get $26,300 after the first year.

No determinations were made at Monday’s budget hearing, but supervisors will adopt plans in September to take effect Oct. 1.