CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Kanawha County Commission President Kent Carper wants to give each of the county's elected officials $51,500 for discretionary raises.Carper expects to make the proposed raises part of the county's 2013-14 budget.Kanawha County commissioners expect to approve the county's $51 million budget later this month. A discussion of the budget and proposed raises is scheduled for a regular Kanawha County Commission meeting today.County commissioners voted for a $1,000 across-the-board pay raise for all county employees last year, following years of stagnant salaries.Despite a tight budget, Carper said he wanted to give the county's elected officials money to pass out merit raises this year."It's just a proposal from me at this point," he said. "I may not get a second on it."Some elected officials have been asking for extra money for merit raises for years. Carper said the elected officials are autonomous and can spend their salary budgets any way they want to, but setting money aside specifically for discretionary raises sends a message that the county values its workers."There are people here who deserve to be recognized for what they do," Carper said. The discretionary money would give elected officials the ability to give extra raises to outstanding workers and help out some of the county's lowest-paid employees.
The six offices that would be given the extra money under the proposal are county commissioners, county clerk, circuit clerk, assessor, sheriff and prosecuting attorney.Carper sent out a memo last week telling officials about the proposed raises. The memo came as good news to Circuit Clerk Cathy Gatson, who frequently says her employees deserve more money."We think our employees are some of the most important workers in government today," Gatson said. "That's why I'm always over there asking for any raises that are fiscally responsible."Gatson has an annual salary line item of about $1 million to pay 39 full-time and three part-time employees. She said she would wait to see if Carper's proposal passes before deciding how to split up the money."We want to give each and every employee a meaningful raise," she said.County Commissioner Hoppy Shores had not had a chance to study the proposal on Monday. Commissioner Dave Hardy was reviewing the proposal with county financial director Dave Fontalbert."I'm studying the issue now and will determine what position I will take," Hardy said.