Ashley County Quorum Court’s budget committee will recommend all county employees receive a three percent raise in the coming year.

The committee members voted to send the recommendation to the full governing body after a meeting Thursday, during which the justices on the committee met with the county’s elected officials to discuss their proposed budgets.

“We have really good, really dedicated employees, and they deserve something,” Circuit Clerk Vickie Stell said.

When Justice Bob Rush asked how Ashley County compared to other counties its size in terms of employee pay, Tax Assessor Beth Rush said, “We are right in the middle.”

Justice Carlton Lawrence said the county has not been in the habit of giving regular raises.

“We went several years without giving a raise when the economy wasn’t perking up like it is now,” he said.

“You don’t necessarily have to make up for all of it,” he added, “but last year was the first year we gave a raise in a long time.”

In steering the conversation, committee chair Justice Jeff Langley offered the perspective of one who has been employed by a local government.

“I worked for a municipality, and I know what it is like to go 10 years without a raise,” he said. “It’s not fun. You feel like the higher ups don’t care for you.”

Justice Greg Sivils added that if the county has good people, “you better hold onto them.”

Treasurer Stacey Breshears said that when the county discussed giving employees a full dollar per hour raise last year, the quorum court decided not to go that far.

“We couldn’t afford the dollar raise last year, and we didn’t, so this is like you are making up for it now,” she said.

Langley said the county should issue a percentage raise rather than a specific dollar or cents amount.

“You can give a smaller raise every year, but you are giving them a raise instead of giving them a big raise, then do nothing for two or three years and then you are behind again,” he said.

Justice Lawrence ultimately made the motion to issue the raise, which Sivils seconded and it passed the committee unanimously.

The full quorum court will have to approve the move before it can be formally placed in next year’s budget.

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