Macon proposes employee pay raises for first time in three years

Macon County’s proposed budget manages to keep taxes at 27.9 cents per $100 valuation — the second-lowest rate in the state — yet give employees a 3 percent cost-of-living raise.

“They have worked hard to do their job without complaint as they continue to help us hold the line on spending while delivering essential county services,” Macon County Manager Jack Horton said in support of the proposal.

Commissioners have started a series of work sessions on the proposed $42.4 million budget, which Chairman Brian McClellan described as probably involving more “tweaks” than large adjustments.

He said he has not decided whether to endorse a pay raise, but is waiting to hear discussions on that possibility by the other four board members.

“It has been three years since there’s been a raise, but on the other hand, inflation hasn’t been very high, either,” said McClellan, who is a financial advisor in Highlands.

Commissioner Ronnie Beale said he would support a pay raise for employees if the numbers proposed hold up at the end of commissioners’ work sessions. Additionally, Beale said, he’d like to see Macon County’s deputies’ pay be brought up to the same level as their counterparts in the region.

Horton noted Macon County “finds itself in an enviable position compared to many counties in North Carolina. The county is in sound financial condition … our fund balance is stable and allows the county to have in reserve an amount equal to three months of operating expenditures. This provides a strong degree of confidence in terms of being prepared for unexpected emergencies or a shortfall in revenues due to circumstances beyond our control.”

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