Oklahoma County employees will get across-the-board, 2 percent pay raises retroactive to Jan. 1 if a county budget panel approves the proposal on Thursday.
County Treasurer Butch Freeman, who has held the post since 1993, said it was the first time he could recall county employees getting an across-the-board raise.
A separate proposal to increase the $106,000 annual salaries of the county's eight elected officers by 2 percent lacks sufficient support from the County Commission and appears dead.
The raises are intended to make up for the reductions in take-home pay that took effect when the 2 percent federal payroll tax cut expired at the first of the year.
County employees are in “dire need” of that money, said Ray Vaughn, the County Commission chairman. He blamed President Barack Obama for failing to reach an agreement to extend the federal payroll tax cut.
“I don't want the employees to be disadvantaged because of the president's lack of follow-through on his promise not to raise taxes on the middle class,” he said. “We have to take care of our people.”
The eight county elected officers — treasurer, sheriff, clerk, assessor, court clerk and the three commissioners — have the authority, as the Budget Board, to raise salaries for the 1,700 county employees.
The County Commission — Vaughn, Brian Maughn and Willa Johnson — have authority to raise the salaries for themselves and the other five elected officials. Vaughn and Maughn both said they opposed the notion; Johnson said she needed more information.
Money for raises for county employees is to come from money already in the county budget, Freeman said. The raises are expected to cost $554,861 for the balance of the fiscal year, which ends on June 30.
Maughn said county salaries are lagging, in part because employees have absorbed increased health care costs.
“It coincides with this tax cut falling off but in reality we're addressing a long-term problem that I've been grappling with the last four years,” he said.