Stefanie Cope

Staff Writer

Employee raises are causing an uproar in the Cherokee County Courthouse.

At the Cherokee County Commission meeting Monday, Cherokee County Register of Deeds Christy Grant asked the commission about the difference in the raises between departments in the courthouse. She was unhappy with the difference between the Cherokee County Clerk’s employee raises and the other department employee raises. Grant was concerned with how the commission handled the raises.

“The public needs to know what’s going on in this courthouse,” Grant said.

County Clerk Crystal Gatewood gave two of her employees a 50 cent an hour raise and two employees a 70 cent raise.

The Cherokee County Commission approved a 25 cent per hour raise for all non-elected officials earlier this year. Elected officials and department heads were told to take it out of the budget they have now and give the quarter raise. If there was money in the budget for a bigger raise then it was at their discretion how large a raise to give.

Grant said she understood the commission preferred the officials and department heads give the 25 cent raise. She said she believes there is a need to create harmony between the offices and if the raises are different then it is hindering that ability. When told of budget cuts next year Grant said it does not effect what has already gone on this year.

“Because I’m a taxpayer I want to know what’s going on,” Grant said. “If I’m here four years, 12 years, or 20 years, I’ll be fighting for the employees and the taxpayers.”

Cherokee County Commission Chairman Jack Garner said the 25 cent raise was just recommended but not required or a limit. The commission sets and controls the budgets up to a point.  It can add and take away from budgets, but department budgets can be used by county officials as they see fit.  The commission has no say in how the budget is actually used.

“Crystal has stayed in budget in years past,” Garner said.

Former Cherokee County Commission Chairman and current commissioner Richard Hildebrand said that the 25 cent raise was what the commission approved and preferred. Hildebrand said Gatewood has two budgets. The election budget and the normal county clerk’s budget. He said the election budget was not cut off in the off years, so it hasn’t changed. He said some of the raises may come from there.

Gatewood said she was able to give a larger raise to four of her employees while staying within her budget.

“There was no mandatory set thing saying there was a 25 cent raise,” Gatewood said.”I brought my employees up by looking at Commissioner (Richard) Hildebrand’s pay scale that he made.”

Gatewood had already allotted for raises in her budget before the suggestion of 25 cents came out. She said she did not cut back on anything else or exceed her budget when giving the raises.

“I felt like they needed to be brought up, I couldn’t go as high as what Richard had in his pay scale, there was no way, I couldn’t afford that and I know that,” Gatewood said, adding she gave what she could to her employees at this time.