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County Council, May 4

Bond issue for PRC

County employees to get 5% pay increase?

Warwick Jones

With much of it taken up by presentations, last night’s Finance Committee meeting was low key. Three of the 9 members of the Committee were absent.

The most important item was a proposed $45 million bond issue by the Parks and Recreation Commission (PRC). The proceeds were to be used for improving, expanding and renovating properties. The PRC got approval, and accolades for both the job it was doing and for not seeking a millage increase.

Predictably, there were questions about plans for the marina it owned on the Cooper River in North Charleston. The spokesman said that the plans were still be considered. It was possible that a renovation of the marina would be undertaken or the marina decommissioned and the property made a waterfront park. We suspect that if the marina is renovated there will be some changes. Renters of slips have the right of renewal of slips and seemingly, because there is very small turnover, rents are less than market rates.
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The CAPES study has been underway for some years. Its purpose, amongst other things, was to get a perspective of pay to County employees relative to those in other Counties or municipalities. Its first phase was implemented in 2014. Its second phase is to be implemented this year.

According to the presentation last night, a study of pay scales in some 21 Counties and municipalities in the South indicated that Charleston County pay was about 5% less than its peers. But that study was at the end of 2015. The consultant retained by the County estimates that the difference has widened to 8-9% presently. Staff turnover is also much higher in Charleston County. But as Committee member Schweers commented, does this reflect a too low pay scale of the County, or the strong local economy and the draw of the private sector?

Amongst other things, the consultant recommended that the County adopt a 5% increase in pay for employees and also increase merit pay. The 5% increase would boost the County’s payroll by over $5 million a year.

Staff indicated that the 5% increase would be included in the proposed 2018 budget but the increase would be effective only in the second half of the year. Fiscal 2019 would bear the full impact.

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