Dec 302011

By Linda Kor–

Navajo County employees who were subjected to a 2.5 percent decrease in their salary in July 2009 will see their salaries restored after the first of the year.

During the Dec. 27 meeting of the Board of Supervisors, County Finance Director James Menlove explained how the salary reduction was initially made to help balance the county’s budget. “It was in response to an economic condition. Employees by and large received the 2.5 percent reduction. In addition, employee costs were passed on to employees, such as retirement increases and cost of living increases,” he informed the board.

Menlove estimates that the cost to restore wages to about 300 county employees will come to approximately $98,000 for the remainder of the fiscal year. “This will affect approximately half of the employees. Those employees who received an increase due to a promotion, or were hired during this time at 80 percent of their salary will not receive the increase,” explained Menlove, who later added that positions where employees provide 24-hour coverage, such as sheriff’s deputies, were not included in the plan, since the cost of overtime to cover absences caused by the additional leave would have cost more than the county saved through the salary reduction.

He also clarified that although the budget would allow for the increase, the county still needs to carefully watch expenses. “We are still not out of the recession, not by any stretch of the imagination,” stated Menlove, who added that his department carefully looked at the figures in order to meet the objective of restoring wages as soon as it was possible.

In that same meeting the board elected Supervisor J.R. DeSpain as the new board chairman for 2012, with Supervisor Jerry Brownlow as vice chairman. Supervisor David Tenney held the position for 2011, with DeSpain serving as vice chairman.

In other action Dec. 27, the board:

* Authorized an amendment to an agreement with the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service for special use authorization regarding the Lone Pine Dam Project.

* Approved Swank Motion Pictures for a public performance agreement at a cost of $1,365 for a one-year period.

* Approved a liquor license application for Edith Hoskins for Grumpy Jakes Two, LLC, located at 3973 W. White Mountain Lakes Blvd. in Lakeside.

* Approved a memorandum of agreement with the Chinle Unified School District and South West Food Service Excellence for training, with any funding to come from state grants.

* Authorized a contract between the sheriff’s office and the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety that would provide $15,000 for overtime related to DUI details.

Photo by Linda Kor

Former chairman of the Board of Supervisors David Tenney received a plaque and the gratitude of the board for his leadership in 2011 as Supervisors J.R. DeSpain (left) and Jerry Brownlow (right) step in as the new chairman and vice chairman, respectively, for 2012.