ALBANY, Ga. — Some Dougherty County Commissioners voiced their displeasure Monday with the Albany-Dougherty Economic Development Commission's decision to award 2 percent raises to its employees.
The discussion was spurred by Commissioner Gloria Gaines who said she didn't believe the raises were proper given the financial constraints of local government, which contributes two-thirds of the EDC's annual budget.
"With budgets so tight, maybe we need to take a closer look at the budgets of organizations that are subject to our funding," Gaines said. "It seems to me that they should be subject to some kind of monitoring as we are."
Click here to see video of some of Gaines' comments.
Commissioner Jack Stone was also upset because the EDC, which receives $250,000 each year from the Dougherty County Commission, the city of Albany and the Albany Area Chamber of Commerce, gave 2 percent raises to its employees while the county is in its third year holding back cost-of-living raises to its employees.
"It feels like a slap in the face to me. I'm really disgruntled and angry," Stone said. "We've got police officers and deputies who haven't had a raise in years and they take our money and give themselves a raise with it? That's just not right."
EDC President Ted Clem declined to comment on the entity's budget, saying that the budget was approved by the board and that board members would be better suited to answer any questions.
The minutes of the June 20 EDC meeting show that Hudgins abstained from voting, but only board member Aaron Johnson voted against the budget, which included the raises. According to the minutes, the raises would help offset increasing healthcare costs.
The minutes show that City Manager James Taylor, who sits on the board, along with County Administrator Richard Crowdis and former Chamber of Commerce Board Chair Judy Randle, each raised concerns about the pay increases.
"Board members James Taylor, Richard Crowdis, Judy Randle and Aaron Johnson questioned the increase in light of the fact that city and county employees will not receive increases," the minutes read.
Even with the raise, an EDC staffer said the allocation for salaries for fiscal year 2013 will rise by just $900 over fiscal year 2012 because of other changes.
Some commissioners have expressed concern recently when it comes to actions of their subordinate boards.
Last week, the chairman of the Library Board was called before the commission to explain why the board voted to close two libraries in portions of the county some on the commission viewed as areas where the libraries were most needed.
Monday, Commissioner Lamar Hudgins, who is the Dougherty County Commissioner assigned to the EDC but who abstained from the vote for the EDC budget because he said he viewed it as a conflict of interest with his position on the commission, recommended putting commissioners on the Library Board to help resolve communication issues.
Dougherty County Commission Chairman Jeff "Bodine" Sinyard said that boards that receive county funds should be aware of the price at which those funds come.
"I think anyone who receives county funds...needs to run their business like we've tried to run ours," Sinyard said.