County Commissioner Wayne Dukes said the county administrator should not be handcuffed by personnel policies when deciding which managers get pay increases or decreases.
Dukes asked for and got consensus from his colleagues Tuesday for County Administrator Len Sossamon to work with the legal office to see if a clause could be added to the county promotion policy that would eliminate automatic pay hikes up to 5 percent for managers.
The current language involving rank-and-file unionized employees would stay intact, Duke said.
The directive resulted from the recent $29,000 pay increases to four managers tabbed as new assistant county administrators.
Dukes said Sossamon needs more leeway on upper management salaries and the current policy language is too generic.
"We hired this man," Dukes said. "Let him do his job and give him more latitude."
County attorney Garth Coller told the board there may some issues because of non-union positions but agreed to sit down and discuss possible policy modifications.
Sossamon said he hoped to bring something back to the board at its March 12 meeting.
Commission Chairman Dave Russell said he was torn in supporting Sossamon's slate of new assistants and the salaries hikes he knew would kick in. The assistants are part of the administrator's restructuring plan, which is vital to the county, he said.
"I want to review those policies with the administration that more closely reflects our current budgetary situation," Russell said.
County Commissioner Jim Adkins said future discussions could include the feasibility of an employee salary study.
The March 12 discussion may include the possibility of revisiting the recent salary increase to the four assistants.
Sossamon selected Budget Manager George Zoettlein, Land Services Director Ron Pianta, Chief Procurement Officer Russ Wetherington and Director of Transportation Services Brian Malmberg to assume administrative oversight of four distinct areas.
Zoettlein's salary increased 5 percent: from $97,739 to $102,606; Pianta's went up 5 percent: from $93,558 to $98,236; Malmberg's 5 percent raise means he goes from $90,001 to $94,501.
Because he was only making $75,000, Chief Procurement Officer Russ Wetherington received a 20 percent pay raise and will now receive $90,000.