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Supervisors: No employee raises possible because of budget concerns

NATCHEZ — Pay raises cannot be given to Adams County employees this fiscal year due to budget concerns, members of the Board of Supervisors said during their Monday meeting.

Last month, the board discussed giving across-the-board raises for all employees except those who’ve had raises in the last year, elected officials and new hires.

The board was particularly concerned about the road department losing employees to other counties for more pay.

Adams County Road Department Supervisor Robbie Dollar said he was short by six road department employees after losing some to surrounding counties because their pay was not competitive enough.

Officials said it has been at least two years since Adams County Road Department workers have received raises.

Supervisor Angela Hutchins said nearly all county employees were underpaid and suggested giving road department employees a $2 pay raise and other departments a 5 percent raise.

However, during Monday’s meeting County Administrator Angie King said the departments were unwilling to cut expenses enough to allow employees to receive raises.

The county set a $33 million budget last October and has a nearly equal amount of expenditures this fiscal year, King said.

“To be frank, we’re in the hole $42,000,” she said. “We’re operating at a break-even point. … We’re going to have to wait until the next budget period because there is nothing there.”

King said the only way to amend the budget for pay raises was to cut expenditures and there was nowhere to cut the expenditures.

Supervisor Ricky Gray suggested waiting until the next budget to plan for pay raises.

“We have never given a raise in the middle of a budget because we don’t know where we’re going,” Gray said. “I just don’t know how we’re going to do it. We’ve got too many uncertainties.”

Board President Angela Hutchins said she is still “all for giving employees raises” but not at the expense of the county taking out a loan.

“I’m not about to put ourselves in a hole,” Hutchins said.

In other matters during Monday’s meeting of the Adams County Board of Supervisors, the board:

  • Discussed creating an advisory board for appointing new members to the Natchez-Adams County Airport Commission. Currently, the Board of Supervisors appoints members to the Airport Commission. Members in 2020 were Gary Holloway, David Gaude, Edward Ealey, Theodore Johnson and John McCullough. Supervisor Kevin Wilson said the board could not appoint pilots or persons with airport experience due to potentially creating a conflict of interest with the airport’s day-to-day business, which Wilson said, “doesn’t make sense.” No action was taken to fill the commission’s vacancy during Monday’s meeting.
  • Discussed purchasing a transport van and six patrol vehicles for the Adams County Sheriff’s Office. Adams County Sheriff Travis Patten said the department is short by 17 vehicles due to wrecks, bad transmissions and blown motors and ask for six Ford Explorers to replace some of the vehicles. The board tabled the decision on the vehicles until the department could further explore leasing or purchasing options with the Enterprise Government Fleet Program. The board also discussed damages to the Adams County Jail’s two padded cells that need to be repaired. Adams County Sheriff Travis Patten said inmates destroyed the padding in the cells, which could cost approximately $14,000 to repair.
  • Voted unanimously to continue the county’s COVID-19 emergency proclamation, which allows the county to be reimbursed by the federal and state government for COVID-19 related expenses. Adams County Emergency Management Director Robert Bradford told supervisors they should continue COVID-19 restrictions such as mask-wearing until COVID-19 vaccination numbers are up. Bradford said so far, 5,000 residents have been vaccinated.

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