County gives bonuses, trims 2014 budget
Mesa County commissioners voted unanimously Monday to adopt a 2014 budget and to adjust the 2013 budget to include $900,000 in pay bonuses to county employees.
The one-time payments will be awarded to 90 percent of county employees based on their work performance this year. Those evaluated as “outstanding” will get $1,150, “above” expectations workers will get $950, and “successful” employees will get $750, according to Mesa County Finance Director Marcia Arnhold.
Performance payments were given to county employees last year as well, the first pay raise or bonus awarded to county employees since a pay freeze was enacted in 2009. As in 2012, the payments were budgeted using money that went unspent during the year by county department heads and elected officials.
Encouraging department heads to budget conservatively while bonuses hung in the balance may encourage “gamesmanship” and “padding” during department budgeting, citizen Dennis Simpson said during Monday’s county administrative meeting.
“I do not think that is an appropriate action to take,” he said.
Simpson questioned when commissioners decided to proceed with bonuses, to which Commissioner Steve Acquafresca responded that the discussion began with the county’s compensation committee earlier this year. The formal decision to go forward with the bonuses was made Monday, according to County Administrator Tom Fisher.
When Simpson commented that 90 percent seemed high for above-average ratings for employees, Fisher responded “we do not keep employees that are performing below average.”
Commissioners approved the bonuses and the 2014 budget in unanimous votes.
Mesa County’s 2014 spending budget is $155.8 million, a 1 percent drop from the county’s 2013 budget. The county’s 2014 general fund lists $56.2 million in expenditures, up a little more than $98,000 from general fund spending in 2013. The general fund increase is possible despite an anticipated decline in property tax revenue and a projection of flat sales tax collections in the new year because the county is poised to end 2013 with 25 percent of its revenue in a fund balance. Next year’s fund balance is expected to be 20.5 percent of county revenue collections.
The county’s 2014 budget includes $360,199 more than projected 2013 spending for Mesa County Sheriff’s Office law and detention costs and $368,974 less for the office’s work release fund, $211,038 more for the Mesa County Clerk and Recorder’s Office in anticipation of 2014 election expenses, and $173,594 from the conservation trust fund and $8,368 from the county’s general fund for the Orchard Mesa Pool.
Though 7.2 positions have shifted within county staffing since the 2013 budget was adopted last year, current staffing levels and the number of full-time equivalent county employees will remain at 986.58 through 2014.