The Lowndes County Supervisors established a “pay floor” of $13 an hour at its meeting Tuesday at the courthouse.
County Administrator Jay Fisher said the pay policy was a bit of housecleaning after the board gave pay raises earlier this year. Hourly employees got a 75-cent-per-hour raise across the board, and the county’s goal was to get everyone up to $13 per hour.
Even after the raises, some employees were still not up to that level, Fisher said, and he asked the supervisors to approve a policy that would establish $13 as a minimum hourly pay rate.
“It was not a budgetary issue, so I did not ask you to adopt it during the budget process,” he said. “We need to follow up. There are only four employees that are less than $13, they are making $12.75. I think it would be wise to set it so nobody in the county would be paid less than $13.”
Any new hires would not start at less than $13 an hour going forward, Fisher said.
District 5 Supervisor Leroy Brooks argued there would still be disparities going forward, even with the policy.
“If a person quits tomorrow, and you bring someone new in, there will be a disparity with people who have already been there,” Brooks said.
Raising the floor to $13 per hour will have minimal impact on the county’s bottom line.
“This only affects four employees,” said District 2 Supervisor and President Trip Hairston. “They are all in the same department. This will get them up to $13.”
The board also appointed two members to the Lowndes County Industrial Development Authority board, one of which was a reappointment. The other was a holdover from the supervisors’ Nov. 15 meeting when the board found itself in an acrimonious 2-2 standoff, with Sanders and Holliman favoring Heather McGee of McGee Building Group, and Smith and Brooks backing 4-County manager Albert Jethrow. Holliman was not present.
Monday the appointment went fairly smoothly, with Brooks making a motion, seconded by Smith, for Jethrow, followed immediately by Hairston making a substitute motion for McGee, seconded by Sanders.
Brooks asked Hairston to withdraw his motion.
“I don’t think anybody in here is wanting to vote against anybody,” Brooks said. “Obviously (McGee) has the votes, but at the same time (Smith) and I have committed to vote for Jethrow. We still want to unanimously vote for (McGee).”
Hairston withdrew his motion, but Sanders had a question.
“It looks to me like you are forcing me (and Hairston and Holliman) to vote against somebody,” Sanders said.
Brooks told him just to abstain instead of voting no, and that’s what ended up happening. The vote for Jethrow failed, with Brooks and Smith voting yes and the other three abstaining. Typically an abstention counts with the majority, but, since the ‘yes’ votes were not a majority, the motion failed.
Hairston then moved to appoint McGee, seconded by Sanders, and it passed unanimously. She will replace Thomas Lee and serve until Oct. 31, 2025.
With no discussion the board then reappointed Pete Perkins, who will serve until Nov. 14, 2025.