Jasper County employees will see a 2 percent cost of living raise in their September paychecks.

Jasper County employees will see a 2 percent cost of living raise in their September paychecks.

County elected officials will get the same increase, although it is unclear when their raise will take affect.

Jasper County Auditor Richard Webster told the Jasper County Commissioners that the county had enough money to fund the increase, the first raise for county employees in several years.

He said a 2 percent raise for county employees will cost the county $74,725 for the rest of 2012 and approximately $224,000 a year for the entire fiscal year of 2013 and beyond.
“That’s a cost to the budget that must be absorbed if we do this,” Webster said. “I’m hoping that at year end we will be able to break even and we will have a bit of an excess which will help us fund what we need to fund next year. That’s the way we operate from year to year.”

While the employees will see the raise in their checks immediately, it was not clear when the county elected officials would see the increase.

Elected officials are prohibited by state law from giving themselves a raise, so most increases in their salary take affect after the following election.

Webster said a salary commission meeting of elected officials, held in 2007, voted that elected officials would be given a cost of living increase equal to that of county employees if the employees were given an increase.

That vote was to take affect in January 2011, but no raise was given that year.
Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Norman Rouse said he and Prosecutor Dean Dankelson would have to do some research to determine if county elected officials would see a 2 percent increase in their paychecks immediately or after the new terms of office begin on Jan. 1, 2013.

The two had not publicly announced an opinion as of late Tuesday.
In other business, Eastern District Commissioner Jim Honey said the county met with contractors and showed them the damage on the Spring River near the historic Morrow Mill.

Honey said the county will open bids on a project to repair the erosion to the river’s north bank near the County Road 118 bridge over the river at 11 a.m. next Tuesday.
The federal Natural Resources Conservation Service is paying 75 percent of the cost to repair the erosion and remove rocks and portions of the Morrow Mill dam and restore the river’s original course.

The failure of the Morrow Mill dam several years ago redirected the river toward the north bank, causing the loss of land near a private home and endangering the County Road 118 bridge.

The project calls for restoring the bank and reinforcing it with large rocks and other defenses.