County gives employees 3 percent pay raise

Bamberg County Council held a public hearing and gave third and final reading approval to its Fiscal Year July 1, 2010 through June 30, 2011 Budget at a special call meeting on Monday, June 28, 2010 in the Bamberg County Courthouse. The $7,668,651 budget passed by council members will include a three percent pay raise for county employees and no millage increase for the second consecutive year. The only change in the budget noted from the second reading was the inclusion of $22,000 for county retiree benefits.

Also during the budget discussion, council members’ updated section-5 of the budget to include reimbursement of county employees and county elected officials for authorized county business at the federal rate per diem for mileage, hotel room and other expenses effective July 1, 2010. The budget includes a $2,250 per year allowance for each council member per year for county related expenses.

Bamberg County Council Chairwoman Alzena Robinson noted these items were not changes. “What we’re doing is trying to make everything clear,” Robinson said.

“I congratulate Rose (Dobson-Elliot) County Administrator, Thomas (Thomas M. Thomas) Finance Director, Bamberg County employees and Bamberg County Council as a whole for passing a budget for the second year in a row with no millage increase,” Councilman Chris Wilson said. Wilson added “Every time you pick up the paper you see where some county is increasing millage or increasing taxes. It comes from hard work on the budget and each department staying within their budget,” said Wilson.

Also during the meeting:

• Council members agreed to rescind for further discussion a tuition assistance program for full-time Bamberg County employees. In discussion of the proposed program, council members expressed different opinions: “The reality is that we have a budget. It would have to come out of contingency funds on a case-by-case basis,” Councilman Chris Wilson said.

“They (county employees) would rather have a raise than an education. They’re here for a raise,” Councilwoman Dorothy “Dot” Tatum,” said referring to the large number of county employees on hand again for the third and final reading of the budget.

• Council members approved a new five-year service agreement continuation for Bamberg County by the Southern Carolina Regional Alliance (SCRA). While agreeing to the continuation of service with (SCRA), council members expressed their concerns the agreement, which has a year left, has an automatic renewal clause and requires a 60-day notice before the end of the contract. The purpose of the renewal at this time was to get Bamberg and Allendale Counties on the same schedule.

• Council members gave their approval to the replacement of Council Chairwoman Alzena Robinson by Councilman Clair P. Guess III as a board member on the Southern Carolina Regional Alliance Board.