Concerned with possible turnover from educated employees in her department, Circuit Judge Rhonda Wood is transferring money within her department in order to give them raises, and the personnel committee of the Faulkner County Quorum Court has agreed to the proposal.
The Quorum Court will be voting Tuesday on a separate proposal that would give all county employees a 3 percent cost of living raise, the first of its kind in three years. But Wood believes that similar jobs in other parts of the state still offer more compensation than Faulkner County and more is needed than a cost of living raise.
"We have been recognized as one of the best juvenile courts in the state, and that is because of the people working there," Wood said at the committee meeting. "These are college educated people who are making less than $40,000 a year and could be somewhere else making more. They are frustrated, but they are proud of the work they do here."
The committee approved Wood to use about $7,000 to spend for salary increases in both the circuit and juvenile courts. The transfer of funds would come out of a vacant part time position. Wood said that the salary increase, which does not come from any new money from the county, would be beneficial in the long run as well, leading to smaller turnover in the department. If an employee leaves their position before a certain time, the county would have to "eat" approximately $15,000 in costs.
By comparison, Jefferson County, which is similar in size to Faulkner County, employees about five more people, each with a higher salary.
When given an initial counterproposal of a $500 bonus for each employee, Wood said the gesture would not keep some for looking at more lucrative employment options.
The personnel committee rejected a request by County Clerk Melinda Reynolds to add a full time employee to her staff. Committee members agreed that the request should have been made when the committee was working on the 2012 budget.