FARMINGTON — Franklin County commissioners voted 2-1 Tuesday to include a 1% wage increase in the proposed 2020-21 budget for nonunion workers, except for Probate Judge Margot Joly.

Commission Chairman Terry Brann of Wilton and Commissioner Charles Webster of Farmington approved the measure; Clyde Barker of Strong opposed it. He supported a 3% increase.

Brann and Webster are trying to phase out wage increases for elected officials, with Joly being the most recently elected. Other elected officials, except for commissioners, are scheduled to get a 1% raise. Commissioners have received a flat $12,000 each for several years.

Webster told Joly that the agreement commissioners had with her was for $34,000 a year for her term of four years. Her term started Jan. 1.

Joly told commissioners it was her understanding she was not locked in to $34,000 for the part-time job as judge of probate. She didn’t ask for benefits and was added to her husband’s health insurance policy. She also works full-time at her law office in Wilton.

“We gave Margot more money rather than benefits,” Brann said.

Joyce Morton, registrar of probate, said 15 other counties compensate elected officials. She also said nonunion employees are being treated differently than union employees and are getting a 3% increase.

Webster said the next contract will have less of an increase. The union employees agreed to a buyback of accrued paid time off to help lower the county’s unfunded liability. He also mentioned that some union workers risk their lives every day.

In addition, Webster said, taxpayers are struggling, some not being able to pay their taxes, and some are without jobs at this time because of COVID-19. On top of that, Jay’s valuation continues to decrease, which means it will pay less in taxes to Franklin County.

Morton pointed out that nonunion employees were the first to agree to the change in the personnel policy to lower the amount of accrued paid time off. They were given one-time stipends ranging from $250 for a part-time employee to $750 for those who worked for the county for more than five years.

In other budget matters, several department heads either kept their budgets to a minimal increase, kept them flat or decreased them.

County Clerk Julie Magoon will have a total on the commissioners’ budget proposal plans prior to the Budget Advisory Committee’s review at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, May 20, in the Superior Court room.

Only 10 people are allowed at the meeting because of state restrictions. There are nine Budget Advisory Committee members. The county’s IT system manager is also expected to be there to help with the conference call. Members of the public and others will need to call in. A new phone was provided to the county to use so that echoing will not happen as it did at a previous meeting.


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