By NIKKI YOUNK
CRYSTAL FALLS - Elected and appointed Iron County employees will be getting a raise in 2014, but the exact amount per employee is yet to be determined.
The issue was discussed at length during a special meeting of the Iron County Board of Commissioners on Wednesday.
According to Commissioner Jim Brennan, who also serves as the board's finance chair, the county has approximately $35,000 to put toward raises for elected and appointed employees.
In recent years, the board has elected to give percentage raises. However, Iron County Administrator Sue Clisch and some board members felt that percentage raises unfairly benefit those who earn more.
"We're trying to do what's best for the taxpayers of Iron County and the employees of Iron County," said Board Chair Carl Lind.
Clisch thought that raises based on a specific dollar amount might be more equitable to both salaried and hourly employees.
Iron County Prosecutor Melissa Powell pointed out that salaried employees cannot benefit from extra dollars per hour, since their earnings per year are already set.
Based on that thought, Iron County Treasurer Melanie Camps suggested that raises be based on a percentage for salaried employees and on a dollar amount per hour for hourly employees.
Other employees brought up the issue of upcoming union negotiations. They warned the board that raises given to elected and appointed employees now will impact how much of a raise the unions ask for.
Clisch explained that the county usually decides elected and appointed employee raises before union negotiations.
Brennan proposed that the board designate the $35,000 for wage increases and allow Clisch to work out the details of how to equally distribute the money.
Neither Clisch nor the board had the exact number of employees who will share in the money. Brennan did say that it will be "a nice raise" for everyone.
The board approved Brennan's motion three to one, with Commissioner Tim Aho voting against it. Commissioner Patti Peretto was absent.
In other business the board:
- Issued a letter of support for a possible future medical clinic in Iron County. Clisch said that the clinic is a federally qualified health center that already has a number of facilities in the Upper Peninsula. It is a grant-funded clinic that benefits uninsured people and accepts Medicare and Medicaid, she added.
- Added Clisch to the MERS of Michigan contact list for Iron County.
- Announced that the next regular board meeting on Sept. 12 will start at 5:30 p.m. with a flag donation by the East Side Veterans. A public hearing about the Iron County Hazard Mitigation Plan will begin at 5:45 p.m., and the rest of the meeting will follow at 6 p.m.
Nikki Younk's e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.