Grand County employees can look forward to a small pay bump. At a June 5 meeting, the county council unanimously approved a two percent cost of living adjustment (COLA) for non-elected county employees, at the recommendation of the newly formed budget advisory board. The COLA will be retroactive to Jan. 1 of this year.
The cost to the county, according to county budget officer Chris Baird, will be $169,000. That cost will be balanced out by increased sales tax revenue. Additionally, the county has budgeted for several positions that it has been unable to fill, making for a decrease in expenses under what was budgeted.
Baird added that the general fund balance closed out last year at a little more than $4 million, an increase of almost $500,000 over the previous year.
“I projected these figures for the revenue streams based on if the growth maintains the same statistics as from 2016 to 2017, but [Clerk/Auditor] Diana [Carroll] and I have been looking over some of the revenue from sales tax that’s been coming in this year and it’s 12 percent more than it was last year, which means that we’re growing even more this year than we did from 2016 to 2017,” Baird said. “I think the revenue is going to come in better and the expenses are not going to be quite as much as anticipated. We’ve got a healthy fund balance and ... I suspect it will probably grow actually a little bit more this year in sales tax. You can probably see that just in how busy town is.”
Council Vice Chair Curtis Wells moved to approve the pay increase. The motion was seconded by Council Member Jaylyn Hawks.
“I know we went through some frustrating meetings but it’s really great to be able to look at these projections and run a rational analysis of what our margin is so that we can balance compensating our employees fairly and managing the organization as a whole... Thank you to the employees that have been patient,” Wells said.
The pay increase will be a significant adjustment to the budget at the end of the year, Baird said, but thanks to projected increases in revenue and decreased expenses, “the bottom line won’t go under what we budgeted, which is the important thing.”
The next council meeting will consider ordinances to increase pay for the council and other elected officials by two percent to match the employee increase.
“When we’re catching elected officials up, it doesn’t feel right when the elected officials are getting a COLA adjustment and not the employees, so it’s good to keep everybody on the same track,” Wells said.
“It’s just … overcoming inflation so it makes sense for everybody in my opinion,” added Baird.