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Bertie DSS employees make more

WINDSOR – A comparison of annual salaries earned by Department of Social Services (DSS) employees in four local counties shows Bertie at or near the top that list in the majority of the different pay grades.

That comes on the heels of several Bertie DSS employees expressing their frustration over a small cost of living raise for county employees in the FY 2021-22 budget, which became effective July 1.

At their work session held last week, the Bertie County Board of Commissioners were presented a salary comparison of DSS workers in Bertie, Chowan, Hertford and Martin counties.

Cortney Ward, Bertie’s Human Resources/Risk Management Director, made the presentation, noting that Bertie and Hertford County DSS employees have a 37.5 hour work week while their counterparts in Chowan and Martin counties work 40 hours per week.

Still, despite working less hours weekly, the salaries – per pay grade – are generally higher for Bertie DSS workers.

Bertie’s minimum starting salary for a DSS worker is $27,626. By comparison, a similar position in Chowan County is $24,092; in Hertford County it’s $24,854.09; and in Martin County that “lowest grade” starting salary tops the list at $27,846.

Bertie moves to the top of the list as the pay grade advances past a starting position. The minimum salary at pay grade 59 is $30,050; $32,691 at pay grade 61; $35,565 at pay grade 63; $38,687 at pay grade 65; $42,085 at pay grade 67; $45,784 at pay grade 69; $47,753 at pay grade 70; $54,181 at pay grade 75; and $82,546 at pay grade 83.

In a few of those pay grades, the minimum annual salaries paid to Bertie DSS workers is $6,000 to $7,000 more than those holding similar positions in the other three local counties.

That difference grows even higher on the maximum side of the salary comparison. Bertie’s highest paid DSS position (Grade 83) tops out at $114,202 annually. Similarly, the maximum salary is $107,326.63 in Hertford County and $106,280 in Martin County. The highest DSS pay grade in Chowan County is 73 where the salary tops out at $91,406 annually.

“It appears to me, by this chart, we are in front [in amount of salaries],” said Commissioner John Trent.

“This is why I suggested we needed to see this; folks in DSS need to see this,” Commissioner Ron Wesson stated. “You know what we heard [from Bertie DSS employees] ‘everybody else is making more than we’re making.’ Well, this chart shows Bertie DSS is working less hours than surrounding counties and making more. This needs to be well known to the folks in [Bertie] DSS.”

Wesson added that the commissioners have made sure that Bertie DSS offers competitive salaries.

“We’ve done the right thing,” he stressed. “We’ve done very well by our employees and they need to understand that. These are the facts.”

The Commissioners are not considering to “back track” on those salaries.

“Even though we have given salary increases over the last three cycles, where we weren’t required to, we did,” Wesson noted. “Now, we’re not looking to take any money back, we’re just moving the [salary adjustment] schedule back so it’s in synch with the rest of the county employees.”

Wesson added that it’s okay to “correct perceptions.”

“I, and everybody on this board, am committed to make sure that people are paid for the work they do,” he stressed. “This [DSS salary comparison] demonstrates that we’ve been doing just that.”

 

 

 

 

 

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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