ELLSWORTH — Hancock County plans to examine courthouse salaries, such as those for the Registry of Deeds and Registry of Probate.
Registrar of Deeds Julie Curtis raised the issue at the commissioners’ monthly meeting Tuesday. She had asked for a raise for the employee who hasn’t had one in seven years and said she had the money in her budget.
The employee hasn’t had a raise in years because the county’s compensation code hasn’t been updated since 1996. The employee achieved the highest possible salary under the code seven years ago.
The commissioners questioned if the compensation was “consistent within the building.” The building includes salaries of Sheriff’s Department and Hancock County Jail employees who are unionized.
“Consistent within the building is the key to what you’re saying,” said County Clerk Cynthia DePrenger. “I would say no. What she’s doing is making them more consistent with life and with more positions within the building.”
“The compensation code hasn’t been updated since 1996,” DePrenger said.
Commissioner Percy “Joe” Brown asked, “Are we going to have a conflict with similar departments?”
Probate employees are paid at a lower compensation code, said DePrenger, adding, “There’s always been a conflict.”
“Is it going to grow larger?” Brown asked.
“I can also see probate requesting an increase,” DePrenger replied.
Probate employees used typewriters when the compensation code was written and now they use computers, the clerk said.
The county’s chief financial officer, Phil Roy, suggested that this examination occur during budget review.
“They do work and work hard and a livable wage makes sense, and I know she has the money now, but shouldn’t we do this through the budget process?” Roy asked. “What you’re kind of doing is giving someone a raise in the middle of the year when they’re expected [salary] was X.”
Curtis replied, “My question is will you just look at it or will you do something about it?”
DePrenger told the commissioners that the county has a Compensation Review Committee, which last met in 2002.
“If you really want to do this properly, regather your Compensation Review Committee and sit down and do it because it really needs to be done,” DePrenger said.
In other news, the commissioners gave Curtis a go-ahead to explore ways of offering passport services one Saturday a month. Security may be one hindrance to offering the service because once someone enters the courthouse first floor, where the Registry is located, he or she can access the whole building.