By DOTTY NIST
Community leader Bonnie McQuiston stood before county commission on June 28 to ask for a salary increase for lower-level county employees.
The south Walton County resident told the commissioners that usually when she addressed them she was asking them not to do something, but this time she was actually asking them to do something.
With meetings on the 2011-12 fiscal year budget beginning this month, McQuiston expressed concern about the 3-percent cost that county employees would now be paying on their retirement benefits due to recent action of the legislature, combined with increased cost of groceries and other necessities. These employees have received no salary increase for the past three years.
McQuiston said there is a perception among these employees, approximately 60 percent of those employed by the county, that higher-level employees have been well taken care of salary-wise while those earning $45,000 or less a year have not.
She suggested a 6-percent salary increase for the lower-level employees in order to “maintain some credibility” and prevent the loss of skilled personnel.
McQuiston argued that finding the half-million in the budget that it would take to provide the 6-percent increase would “buy a lot in loyalty.”
Walton County’s first budget workshop is scheduled for 9 a.m. on July 11 at the Walton County Courthouse in DeFuniak Springs.