Macon County Board of Commissioners held their regularly scheduled July meeting Tuesday night at the Macon County Courthouse. After having a moment of silence to remember several county employees and their relatives who had passed away in the weeks prior to the meeting, Vice-chairman Bobby Kuppers led the meeting in the Pledge of Allegiance.
The meeting began with a public hearing regarding the Rural Operating Assistance Program (ROAP) application. Although no one signed up to speak for or against the application Transit Director Kim Angel informed the board that the application was for funding to cover three individual transportation programs involving a total of $133,374 in funding for the county. With no one present to speak to the motion, commissioners unanimously voted to approve the application.
The board also heard a preliminary report from John Anzivino and Stephaine Davis, representatives with Springsted, Inc. regarding the completion of a compensation and classification study for county employees. Although Springsted, Inc. did not have a final report to give to commissioners because of a recent power outage and damage to their servers, they anticipate having the final report to commissioners by Thursday, at which point a work session will be held to fully explain the information collected in the survey.
According to the summary given Tuesday night, after surveying 11 counties and municipalities in North Carolina ranging from Person County to the City of Hendersonville, the average Macon County employee is paid 21 percent below average per position.
Davis explained that of the county's 327 employees, 181 employees are below the minimum amount for the position they hold. At the request of Commissioner Ronnie Beale, Anzivino explained that positions that had been consolidated to meet the demands of the difficult economy were taken into consideration in the study.
Anzivino and Davis offered commissioners three choices to get the county's salaries back on track, which included about $1.2 million being paid in the next few years to bridge the gap. Although the county is below average compared to the counties and municipalities that were surveyed, Macon County employee's benefit package is considered average or above average in more than five areas.
Commissioner Chairman Kevin Corbin noted that through consolidation the county is currently operating with about a 15 percent less overall work force because of the recession. With less employees, Corbin explained that the same amount of work is being done and employees should be compensated for their hard work and dedication to Macon County.
Commissioners had multiple questions for Anzivino and Davis regarding the study, so a work session will be planned at a later date to discuss the study's findings and consider a plan of action.
Commissioner Bobby Kuppers gave the board an update on the proposed renovations to the pools at both the Macon County Recreation Park and the public pool in Highlands. Commissioners voted to award the South Carolina company AquaH20 and Franklin contractor Tom Ritter the bids to complete plans for the proposed facility which include a new pool and pool house in Macon County and renovations in Highlands. Plans are expected to be completed by August at which point the board will decide if the project will begin.
At the request of the Macon County Economic Director Tommy Jenkins, commissioners approved $50,000 from the county's Economic Development Commission be allocated for improvements to the county's incubator facility. The incubator facility is used to house new businesses in Macon County, with the intention that as they grow they will bring jobs and other economic benefits to the region. The $50,000 will be used for renovations to the building including installing a heating and cooling system.
On a motion made by Commissioner Beale, commissioners unanimously voted to appoint Chairman Corbin the board's voting delegate to the 105th North Carolina Association of County Commissioners Annual Conference in August. Although all commissioners plan to attend the conference, only one representative will be allowed to vote on matters of concern at the conference. The conference will be held August 16-19 in Wake County.