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BPW employee cost of living adjustment postponed Print E-mail
Written by Nancy C. Hiers   

The Board of Public Works meeting held Monday, June 29th included discussions about the budget, both public and personal.

BPW Manager Bruce Ellis suggested an “in depth” review of the “close to $ 10,000,000 budget” with the Commissioners before final approval.

Ellis then introduced a proposed cost of living adjustment, which would increase BPW workers’ pay by 3.8%, but that discussion has been “tabled” as of Monday’s meeting. “One thing that we do need to do, at this meeting, is the same thing we do every year, we need to talk about the cost of living.”

When asked if it needed to be passed “tonight,” Ellis explained that for the increase to be included in the weekly pay checks this week that it would. “We get the checks at the end of each week, so if we don’t pass it tonight, it will just hold up on getting the increase in the checks.”

Chairman Carl Kilgus commented that it has been “customary” for the increase to be in line with the City of Bamberg cost of living increases, though this is not mandatory. The City increased salaries by 3.8%, the same increase currently proposed for BPW employees.

Commissioner Buddy Sandifer stated that he is “not a big fan of percentage raises. Percentage raises were not designed for the little man on the totem pole…. We’ve got two employees that make $9.45 an hour, and they’re at the bottom of the totem pole, and they don’t get much of a raise when you give a percentage raise, but up the ladder, medium size and on up, those fellows get a good raise. My perspective of treating everybody equal would be to give everybody the 3.8% raise, but let it be an equal employee raise.”

According to Sandifer, to calculate this “you take all the salaries and figure them at 3.8%, and then you total all those salaries and get X number of dollars, and then you divide 23 (the number of) employees into that, and then you come up with a figure, so the man who makes $9.45 an hour gets the same money as the man who makes the big money at the top of the thing and everybody is treated equal.”

Ellis explained that a cost of living adjustment is not the same as a raise, according to law.

The differences in salary according to Ellis are due to variations in job responsibilities and special training. “In our organization we don’t have all linemen, we don’t have all water plant operators, who are licensed and who have passed the test to be certified in South Carolina, we have people who are labor.”

Commissioner Marion Dwight expressed the need to “see some figures” regarding Sandifer’s proposed equal employee raise. “I’d like to see some figures as to how that would equate, because if you give a man who is making $9.45 a fifteen dollar raise, that is more than he is making an hour.”

“An adjustment has to be flat line across in a public sector” Ellis explained, according to law. This is different from a merit or other raise.

Sandifer again expressed his “personal perspective” that a 3.8% across the board living adjustment would “not be fair to the little man. A percentage raise is not a fair raise every time.”

With that, the discussion was tabled and the vote did not happen. BPW employees will not see a cost of living adjustment in their paychecks until the matter is resolved.

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