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Raises on the way for county employees
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Effingham County employees will be getting a little more money after county commissioners agreed to new pay rates and job classification changes.

County staff looked at the pay ranges for personnel in counties similar in population to Effingham and also those close by. At an estimated 49,213 people, Effingham is classified as a C county by the state. The population count for C counties starts at 50,000.

Compared to two other C counties close in population, Laurens (46,896) and Colquitt (43,915), Effingham’s personnel budget is greater than either of those two. Effingham has 293 full-time employees, compared with 263 for Colquitt and 375 for Laurens. Effingham’s ratio of personnel to population is the same as Colquitt’s, while Laurens has 8.1 county workers for every 1,000 people.

Bryan County, also a C county, has 255 county employees for a population of 28,549.

Effingham was compared to five B counties, including Glynn and Lowndes. Glynn, with a population of 71,874, has 785 county employees and personnel expenditures account for $42.96 million out of a budget of $97.4 million. Lowndes, with a population of 96,705, has 559 employees.

Effingham is expected to be a B county in population after the 2010 Census.

“We’re competitive enough in that market,” county human resources director Rushe Hudzinski-Sero said.

An efficiency study called for a ratio of five employees to every 1,000 people in a county, and the county’s rate is 5.9 per 1,000.

“We’re meeting our goal of increasing efficiency in our positions,” Hudzinski-Sero said.

The county human resources department also has revamped how it does performance reviews. They are now done every quarter, with monthly reminders being sent out.

“We have seen greater success as far as getting them completed and turned in,” Hudzinski-Sero said.

The new pay scale is designed to help the county keep the personnel it hires and trains, instead of losing them to other governments that offer better packages.

“The turnover can be very, very expensive as well,” Hudzinski-Sero said. “We end up training them and sending them off to another county. That ends up being costly. We’re investing enough in them to keep them.”

The average pay increase over the last six years has been 7 percent for Effingham. For Bryan, Chatham and Liberty counties, the average increase has been 12 percent to 15 percent.

“Some of them have supported the county over the years,” Commissioner Myra Lewis said. “I want to make sure we keep good people.”

Commissioner Reggie Loper voted against the new pay grades and re-classifications of jobs.

“I can’t see all these raises myself,” he said. “All the department heads, except for one, make a good salary.”

The pay raises will cost the county $218,000 for the remainder of the fiscal year and is expected to cost $327,000 for next year’s budget.