By SHANE SMITH
For The Yukon Review
Canadian County officials say nothing is more important than the well-being of their employees. Some of those workers could soon get a raise.
At Wednesay’s budget meeting, the commissioners, Sheriff Chris West and other officials praised the way employees have handled the COVID-19 crisis.
They applauded them for their patience, the extra work they’ve put in over the summer and their willingness to serve the public in the midst of a pandemic.
With the county having more money in the budget this year, the question of what should be done with it was discussed at length.
Commissioners had a decision to make — should the extra money be used for county improvements, or should a portion be used for pay raises?
District 2 Commis-sioner David Anderson said county employees deserved a good paycheck, calling them “our most valuable asset.”
At first, he questioned whether it might be wiser to put the money into capital improvements, citing 2020’s declining sales tax revenues.
He then said he didn’t want to be the “voice of dissent.”
The commissioners later voted to approve the raises.
“While I think capital (improvement) is important, nothing is more important than those we employ,” West said.
County Assessor Matt Wehmuller, speaking via phone conference, agreed with West.
He said employees deserved to be treated well, especially for continuing to work during a public health crisis.
Employees will receive a 3 percent merit raise. However, Commission Chairman Marc Hader said that it’s not across the board.
Raises will be at the discretion of the bosses; some employees may get a 2 percent raise, and others may get 4 percent.
Hader later clarified that the capital improvement budget entails projects such as renovating county buildings like the courthouse and jail.
He said the buildings need work due to their age.
West also lauded the way his staff has handled the pandemic.
“I think we’ve all dealt with this thing pretty successfully, checking temps and following Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines.”
West stressed that jails aren’t designed for quarantine, but said his deputies and jailers have brought stability to a difficult situation.
Like practically every other organization in the country, the sheriff’s department has had to do battle with the virus.
A month ago, 24 inmates tested positive.
Hader also applauded the sheriff’s office
“Kudos to you guys for being able to manage that,” he said.
Another decision was made to give $94,000 to the Cardinal Point Family Justice Center.
Hader said the amount is viewed as a one-time allocation of “seed money.”
Assistant District Attorney Tommy Humphries said he applied for two grants for the center.
Canadian County only received one of them.
Canadian County’s budget needs for Fiscal Year 2021 total at $30,638,000, an increase from around $27.1 million last year.
The total available funds are $31,984,705, with $1,346,705 to be balanced.
Hader said he’s proud of the way the commissioners work with the excise board on county matters.
“We’re not a budget board county, we’re a traditional excise board, but we operate together much like a budget board. Other officers are included to a greater degree in our discussions.”
The budget is expected to be finalized in November.