New employees whose salaries are paid out of Mercer County's general fund will have to be approved by the county board.|
After a lengthy discussion on the legality of instituting a hiring freeze in all departments, county board members on Tuesday approved a freeze but limited it to those staff members who would be paid from the general fund, including those at the sheriff's department and court house.
The health department and highway department are exempt from the hiring freeze because workers are paid out of different funds, and both are self-sufficient.
In other personnel matters, the board tabled a request from Mercer County Animal Control officer Chris Brewer to increase the hours of Gayle Pont. According to Ms. Brewer, Ms. Pont handles licenses and fines during her 25-hour week. Increasing her hours would allow Ms. Pont to increase the time she spends bringing in outstanding revenue.
Ms. Brewer also noted her department is self-sufficient, and all wages are paid out of the Animal Control Fund.
While board members agreed additional work hours could bring in additional money, the increase would not offset the cost of converting Ms. Pont's position to full time because of the $1,400 additional monthly insurance cost.
Looking at other ways to cut costs, the board discussed options on refinancing the jail. The current interest rate on the 20-year note is 4 percent. Board members Larry Stone and Ted Pappas said bankers had told them the rate could be lowered to 2.7 percent on a 30-year note. Board members agreed the idea would be passed along to the county's Public Building Commission.
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