Commissioners Set to Approve $218 Million Budget

This Tuesday Athens-Clarke County commissioners plan to approve a $218 million budget for the upcoming fiscal year, but not everyone is satisfied with the proposed budget.

According to the Athens Banner-Herald, before the vote, commissioners are likely to hear again from Athens For Everyone, a progressive activist group that has been pushing the county to pay a “living wage” to all employees, including part-time and seasonal workers.

“Tim Denson, the board president of Athens For Everyone, said after the May session at which the agenda for Tuesday’s meeting was set that the group is ‘obviously going to keep pushing this to the very last minute,’” the article reads. “All of the county’s regular full-time employees are at or above the $10.17 hourly wage that a Massachusetts Institute of Technology-developed calculation tool says is the minimum required for a single person to meet basic needs in the county, but there are dozens of seasonal and part-time workers that are not at that level.”

The positions in question are outside of the county’s pay classification system, which is something that Athens For Everyone is pushing to change.

County commissioners have asked government staff to move those employees into the classification system, evaluating the skills and responsibilities attached to each post to determine what the pay level should be for those jobs, the article reads.

Commissioners have reportedly said it’s possible that the assessment might move the jobs in questions to a “living wage” salary, but it could also potentially result in pay cuts.

The budget proposal includes a $1.8 million outlay to provide the county’s full-time employees with a 2 percent pay increase. Athens For Everyone has revealed that by their calculations, bringing employees up to $10.17 an hour would only cost roughly $78,000.

“County officials have countered that moving those employees to a living wage would require adjusting the salaries of some other employees upward, which could become a far costlier proposition than the Athens For Everyone estimate,” the article reads. “Commissioners have asked that county government staff come back in six months with the revamped classification scheme, with some commissioners hinting that the budget could be amended then to adjust the compensation of some lower-paid employees.”


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