Hughes County commissioners on Thursday approved a 2.5 percent raise for county employees, but for the second year in a row did not give themselves a raise.
The raise outpaces the national increase in cost of living expenses in the last year, Kevin Hipple, Hughes County manager, said.
“Cost of living, when I went out and looked it up, through September it was averaging around 2 percent,” he said. “So according to that this would be slightly more than the cost of living.”
When county commissioners worked on and approved a budget earlier this year, they factored in a 3 percent raise for planning purposes only.
“For budgeting purposes we put in a 3 percent increase and then the way our system works is sometime later in the fall we bring the salary schedule to the commission for final approval,” Hipple said. “They did not approve the full 3 percent; they dropped it back to 2.5 percent.”
Hughes County conducted an informal survey of 10 other counties in the state and found the average salary increase was 2.3 percent with about half of the counties surveyed giving a raise of 3 percent.
Stanley County Auditor Karen Sharp said commissioners there have budgeted a raise of 50 cents an hour for county employees, or an overall increase of 2 percent.
The Hughes County commissioners discussed giving anywhere from a 2 percent to 2.5 percent raise because of concerns for the future.
“We have some unknowns and we have some knowns that are coming around the corner,” Commissioner Jim Hardwick said.
He said he would love to give whatever the county can, but he has to worry about the county outspending itself.
Commissioner Tom Tveit said a year ago the commissioners choose not to take a pay raise and he recommended they not take one again.
The commissioners agreed and voted for a 2.5 percent raise for county employees, but did not increase their own pay.
Commissioner Roger Inman was absent.
The raise will take effect Jan. 1.
Last year, the commissioners gave employees a 3 percent raise.
There are about 99 county employees.