NEW ALBANY — Floyd County Auditor Scott Clark is looking for a way to not only attract a qualified employee, but one who will stick around longer than a few months.

He believes he has found the money to make that happen.

The employee, who will be the property tax manager, is critical to his office and the county, he said. But he has had trouble keeping someone in that position due to its salary.

Clark will now supplement the new hire's pay out of his ineligible account which he controls. The Floyd County Council agreed to the plan and approved the measure last week by appropriating the funds to be used for salary.

"I was successful in upgrading the salary to become more competitive in the local labor market," he said in an email.

Floyd County Clerk Danita Burks also figured out a way to give her employees raises. When one of her employees recently quit, she decided to use some of that person's salary and spread it out to her employees and not fill the vacancy. The move accomplishes two goals — it gave employees a needed raise and saves the county money.

It's a trend that council members hope will continue. As employees leave or retire, their work, and a portion of their pay, may be distributed to others in the office. They hope more officeholders come to them with ideas that will help employees and the county.

Floyd County Council President Denise Konkle said she believes eliminating positions through attrition is a "win-win" for everyone involved. She said other officeholders, besides the auditor and clerk, have asked about reorganizing their offices.

"I think we have an opportunity here ... how can we redistribute work and do it more efficiently?" she said. "I believe it's the right direction for the county."

Floyd County Treasurer Lois Endris agrees eliminating positions through attrition is "a wonderful idea," but said it can not be done overnight. She said it sends a bad signal to other county employees who are not able to get raises, like her own, because positions have not been, or cannot be, eliminated. She said she also doesn't have an ineligible fund, like Clark, to supplement her four employees salaries.

"I have a dedicated staff who are crucial to the county. There is no measure as to what office is more important," she said. "It's undermining when you have someone with 20-plus years of service who cannot get a decent salary, and you bring someone off the street who you have to work with and train get paid more. I have to answer to my staff."

Endris was visibly upset Tuesday after the council voted to allow Clark to supplement his new employee's pay.

"I will not have a staff tomorrow," she told the council after their vote. "You have set a horrible precedent for the staff, and it's been going through the building all day."

Konkle said she did not think it was the wrong precedent to set.

"I don't think we will be able to bring everyone along at the same pace, but we will get there," she said. "This was the fourth time this year we had officeholders come to us and say they wanted to reorganize and redistribute money by not filling a position through attrition. I hope this encourages other departments to come to us with a plan. We won't tell people to cut positions."

Endris said she would like to see the results of a study the county commissioned to look at job classifications and salaries.

"I understand the position the council is in, I just thought their decision was premature without considering the other side of the coin," Endris said.

Chris Morris is an assistant editor at the News and Tribune. Contact him via email at Follow him on Twitter: @NAT_ChrisM.

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