The Saline County Commission granted a request Thursday, Oct. 4, from County Recorder Jamie Nichols to hire a new deputy recorder, but when it came to pay rate, commissioners expressed a good deal of trepidation.
Nichols plans to hire Laura Jackson at $12 per hour, the same rate the previous deputy recorder was paid.
The rate was established in July, when the previous deputy recorder received a raise from $10.59 per hour. Because it wasn't certain the raise could be covered by the recorder's office budget, Nichols agreed at the time that if there is shortfall at the end of the year, she will cover it with money from the Recorder's Preservation Fund.
Nichols said that agreement should remain in effect.
Presiding Commission-er Tom Stallings expressed concern, however, that next year's budget -- with revenue expected to be flat or lower than in this year's tight budget -- would not support the pay rate.
"We as commissioners are in an awkward place," he said. "You, as an elected official, hire your staff, but we have to figure out how to pay these people. I doubt seriously the county is going to have the money next year to cover these raises."
Nichols said she couldn't guarantee the pay difference could be covered next year from the special fund but would address the possibility when the time comes.
Raises in the County Collector's Office and the County Assessor's Office have employed similar strategies, commissioners said, using money from special funds to guarantee against budget shortfalls.
Nichols asked whether those offices would face the same budget situation as hers, and commissioners said they would.
County Clerk Debbie Russell noted that the situation regarding future funding for raises would have come up even if there hadn't been a change in personnel in the deputy recorder position.