The discovery of an outdated line item along with cuts to proposed raises for the Social Services Department could become a boon to Richmond County Schools.
On April 11, during a supervisor’s budget workshop, Dist. 2 Supervisor Jean Harper presented findings she discovered after a recent social service board meeting, of which she is also a member.
“ A couple of years ago [the board] agreed to let them have $18,000 last year and $12,000 from this year’s budget for building,” Harper said.
The Social Services building recently renovated, adding extra space to allow for more providers and services. The county had agreed to provide funding for building and additional rent costs.
“The $12,000 is still included in this [year’s] budget,” Harper said. “So do you want to leave it in there? The build out has been paid for.”
The news came as a surprise to many members, who earlier in the meeting had been discussing ways to improve funding to the capitol improvement line item, something Dist. 3 Supervisor John Haynes said was crucial to the future growth and strength of the county.
Additionally, Harper noted that at that same social service meeting, the board “approved that social service workers get a 5 percent raise and [Director Claudette Henderson] is approved for a 15 percent raise.”
It was an increase that many on the board found unfair when compared to other county employees’ proposed 3 percent raise.
“We can’t give people raises or not give people raises,” Haynes said, adding that the county allocates extra
money that different departments earmark for pay increases.
“We don’t have that power in the literal sense but I do thing that with the county and the school employees, we are trying to figure out any way to give them a …raise and I think it would be out of line, especially the 15 percent, but I think even 5 [percent], to give that much more to one group doesn’t seem right. “
Chairman Lee Sanders agreed, with County Administrator Morgan Quicke explaining to the board that by reducing the questioned Social Services raises from 5 to 3 percent for the 11 employees plus the 15 percent for the director would result in an estimated savings of $16,000.
Paired with the $12,000 from the earlier discovery by Harper, Dist. 4 Supervisor noted that it amounted to $28,000 in funds that would go into the capitol improvement fund.
“That [program] is good for school because that is where it goes,” Haynes said.
Although she had no comment on the supervisors’ proposal, in a followup interview Henderson said that Richmond County Social Services “across the board” rates highly with meeting state standards and as such, her employees “should be compensated accordingly for their dedication.”
A public hearing on the budget is scheduled for Thursday, April 25, 7 p.m. at the county meeting room.