Richard Howe, chairman of the White Pine County Commission, announced during public comment at last Wednesday’s commission meeting that he was stepping down as Chairman of the Board.
“This is my last meeting as the County Commission Chairman, I am resigning and it will be on June 22nd as an agenda item, I thank you for your time.
“I have done 5 1/2 years as chairman. It’s time for me to go, with that being said, let’s proceed with the meeting.”
It was confirmed that Howe did not resign from the commission, just as the chairman.
At a special county commission meeting held two days earlier, Howe had several reservations about several of the agenda items, including an agenda item to evaluate the Finance Director’s pay scales.
Current Finance Director Elizabeth Frances gave her retirement notice earlier this year, and after recruiting and interviewing took place at a May 25 commission meeting the selection was made to hire Kathy Workman, who currently resides in Lexington, Kentucky.
A $7,500 moving stipend was approved and although Workman was asking for $120,000 a year as her salary, she finally agreed to $110,951 with yearly increases of 12 percent.
Howe spoke several times about the concern of the pay scale, and understood that they position was very important, but held several concerns of the dollar amount for Workman.
Fast forward to Wednesday’s meeting, where an agenda item to approve for the current White Pine County Finance Director, Elizabeth Frances month to month agreement at $10,000 was on the table to discuss. Discussion about how many months was sufficient enough to pay Frances during the transition of the new Finance Director.
Commissioner Laurie Carson suggested not more than three months, but the motion was made and unanimously approved for five months.
The Aquatic Center was also seeking a pay increase for staff to be more competitive with current recruitment of lifeguards.
Kristi Lynch, supervisor for the Aquatic Center, explained to the commission that her and Frances conducted research, and mentioned that the current pay scale is above average, but noted that she fully supported the new pay scale at the 5 percent rate.
White Pine County Commission Shane Bybee said, “It’s great to use the other pools’ pay scales as a guideline, but it doesn’t have anything to do with our employee market now.”
Carson asked if this could be a conversation for another time, so they could look at the bigger picture of where this all fits in.
“This is a matter of a pay scale that’s not effective in hiring and retaining, this is more about recruitment and retainment of employees, a liveable wage for someone, or we are wasting our time,” Bybee said.
Carson agreed but explained that she didn’t want to create an issue for current employees who wonder what’s happening or why their pay hasn’t been adjusted.
Commissioner Ian Bullis said, “I share Laurie’s concerns, and I am on the same page with you Shane, I don’t have any intentions of treating our county employees unfairly.
“I’m going to make every effort to ensure that our people are treated fairly. Please be patient with us while we sort this out.”
Bullis made a motion to make an 8 percent increase. Howe abstained since he has a family member that works at the Aquatic Center.
The 8 percent increase was approved unanimously.