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Richmond County department directors get pay raise

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Though it has cost some Augusta workers their jobs, raises or promotions, a government reorganization has expanded the duties of four department directors and boosted their salaries.

City Administrator Fred Russell said he gave the heads of Augusta's revamped recreation, utilities, engineering and solid-waste departments a 15 percent pay increase, retroactive to May 2, the approximate date the city's first phase of restructuring went into effect.

"In some cases, I might have given them more," Russell said. A 15 percent increase is the most the administrator is allowed to give out under the city's new personnel manual without approval from the Augusta Commission.

Russell defended the raises during a contentious meeting Monday of Augusta's administrative services committee, then took more heat from the finance committee about how much money the reorganization actually is saving the city.

"We've taken the public services department, moved that into several different areas," Russell said. "Those duties were spread among the engineering, the facilities and recreation department, and the environmental services department."

A 15 percent pay increase pushes Utilities Director Tom Wiedmeier and Engineering Director Abie Ladson to among the city's highest-paid employees, now earning nearly as much as Russell, at $133,000. Recreation, Parks and Facilities Director Tom Beck's annual salary was boosted to $99,537, while Environmental Services Director Mark Johnson now makes $105,254.

"I don't believe any director, in this day and age, should receive a pay increase before the workers," said Commissioner Bill Lockett, joining colleague Alvin Mason in criticizing the the raises. "I think if any director feels he or she is so relevant to this organization and they don't agree to continue to work at their current salary, they should look for something else."

Wiedmeier said after the meeting that his department's total staff had decreased to 304 approved positions since the reorganization, with about 273 currently filled.

Utilities did most of its restructuring up front and realized savings by shifting to a "pool" system for construction and maintenance crews instead of sending out four-member crews to every job. He cut about 64 positions, many of them vacant, and recently notified a dozen that their current jobs were being eliminated, though they may apply for other openings, Wiedmeier said.

Despite the cuts and raises, Russell couldn't nail down the precise amount the reorganization had saved Augusta government when pressed by Commissioner Jerry Brigham, the chairman of the finance department, for "hard figures."

Originally touting the reorganization as a way to trim $2 million from a $9 million 2011 budget shortfall, Russell said Monday the city would realize only about $400,000 in savings by the end of the fiscal year in December.

Commissioners attending one or more of the committee meetings also tackled other means of saving the city money, including implementing mandatory direct deposit for city payroll checks, limiting false alarms that cost the city about $140,000 annually, raising the price of an alcohol license, privatizing the city's print shop and payroll office, reducing the size of the city's fleet, cutting pricey memberships in the National Association of Counties and National League of Cities, and implementing a time-clock system, which Russell said was going live in October.

In other business, the commission's finance committee approved the abatement of about $22,653 in penalties, interest and other fees charged to RTG Investments.

The firm recently acquired about 50 properties owned by Chaplain Investments LLC in a bankruptcy sale and immediately took steps toward "stabilizing neighborhoods" on Augusta's Dublin, Ellis, Kennedy, Miles, Minor, Nannette, Barton, Shirley, Starnes and Tubman Home roads where Chaplain's houses were situated, RTG attorney Sue Reimer said.

The commission's public safety committee heard the concerns of John Herron, a resident at Richmond Summit apartments on Broad Street, about potential code and law violations at the Broad Street complex.

The commission's public services committee denied a license application to a convenience store owner seeking to sell liquor from one side of his store at the front of Walton Oaks, a new gated development by Augusta Housing Authority on Sand Bar Ferry Road. The authority and several people said to be moving into the new mixed-income development built at the former site of Underwood Homes were opposed to the sale of liquor there.

Comments (47) Add comment
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AutumnLeaves
8446
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AutumnLeaves 08/08/11 - 08:46 pm
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0
There are no

There are no words....unbelievable.

showboat
346
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showboat 08/08/11 - 08:58 pm
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RUSSELL NEEDS TO GO NOW
Unpublished

RUSSELL NEEDS TO GO NOW asp!!!!!!

Taylor B
5
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Taylor B 08/08/11 - 09:07 pm
0
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This whole article is whats

This whole article is whats wrong with Augusta... and then some.

Gaangel
0
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Gaangel 08/08/11 - 09:15 pm
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OMG>>why cant Russel be

OMG>>why cant Russel be stopped??

Riverman1
86855
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Riverman1 08/08/11 - 09:21 pm
0
0
We can't stop Russell because

We can't stop Russell because the way his feet point out when he walks we can't tell which way he's going.

xpresso1
68
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xpresso1 08/08/11 - 09:27 pm
0
0
Ok I don't post very many

Ok I don't post very many comments......BUT this is insane!! I cannot believe this guy. I do not understand what he is thinking. What about your deputies who are risking their lives on a daily basis....dealing with people that Mr Russell would go out of his way to avoid!!! What about them? You expect them to be out there day in and day out with dated equipment...cars that are not the best in the world...and very little pay to add insult to injury!!! Get real Mr Russell or GET OUT

rrjr4ever
0
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rrjr4ever 08/08/11 - 09:33 pm
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All city employee's are

All city employee's are losing 1.85% of there paycheck each pay day to furloughs Russell wanted to balance the budget... He needs to get out of Augusta! No employee's in the city are getting raises...We haven't seen anything in over 3 years!!!

willie7
984
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willie7 08/08/11 - 09:53 pm
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Russell is doing a great job
Unpublished

Russell is doing a great job and we need to appreciate him.
The plan he has will save money over the years.
If commissioners keep beating up on him, he may decide to leave.What I really like about Russell is---he will come out and talk to citizens and presents the facts. He doesn't dodge taxpayers.

showboat
346
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showboat 08/08/11 - 10:36 pm
0
0
Over how many years will
Unpublished

Over how many years will Russell plan save money.?Let Russell leave and see how many job offers he will get. Let the department heads work without the employees and see how much will get done!!!!

allhans
24005
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allhans 08/08/11 - 10:51 pm
0
0
Okay, enough is enough. Fred

Okay, enough is enough. Fred Russell is not paying these raises, Richmond County taxpayers are. One would think that with fewer employees in the department to supervise the department head would get less pay, not more..
Where does he get off. He claims he has to lay off employees because of the budget and then goes on a spending spree.

WHO is in charge here, anyway. One day its Kendrick, today it's Russell. Santa Claus has come early for the favored few.
Thanks Susan McCord for bringing this to the taxpayers attention.

mosovich
826
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mosovich 08/08/11 - 10:58 pm
0
0
Have you all compared the

Have you all compared the salary Russel makes to what other city administrators make in other cities the size of Augusta? Hmmm, better keep what you got, it could get a lot more expensive REALLY quick..

tckr1983
360
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tckr1983 08/08/11 - 11:00 pm
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How does a plan go from

How does a plan go from saving a city 2million dollars all the way down to $400,000? Just missed on that figure... must've forgot to carry a 1 or something.

Willow Bailey
20603
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Willow Bailey 08/08/11 - 11:48 pm
0
0
RC could get rid of 20 men

RC could get rid of 20 men and hire 1 woman, and a lot more would get accomplished.

fatboyhog
2000
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fatboyhog 08/09/11 - 06:34 am
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0
Ah, the old, "spend more to

Ah, the old, "spend more to save more" solution to the problem. I agree with tckr..The plan was supposed to save $2 million, and now it's $400K? Is that before or after the 15% (or more) raises? This is really a slap in the face to every employee in Richmond County. Why are the little guys asked to do more with less, yet the big wheels get to do less with more??

nofrills
0
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nofrills 08/09/11 - 07:00 am
0
0
How can anybody get a raise

How can anybody get a raise right now, what are they better then the guy who cleans your sewer drain? Are they better than the guy who cleans the bathroom at city hall? Give me a break.... department directors dont deserve a raise unless the people under them recieve one too.

Patty-P
3516
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Patty-P 08/09/11 - 07:41 am
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Willow....nice post.

Willow....nice post. Completely agree.

Craig Spinks
817
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Craig Spinks 08/09/11 - 07:45 am
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Externally-conducted,

Externally-conducted, comprehensive personnel audit!

Lori Davis
958
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Lori Davis 08/09/11 - 09:34 am
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I agree with Willow. Also has

I agree with Willow. Also has anyone looked at the Board of Elections office? Why are there the same number of employees in there as there are people to cut grass in the,"Garden City." In case anyone is wondering, this comes to 7 each. Lastly, my husband and I both work for small businesses and neither of us have received a raise in over three years. I would suggest that those in city government who would leave because of a lack of pay increase, just remember, there are 100's of people looking for jobs right now who would be happy to have yours.

willie7
984
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willie7 08/09/11 - 09:54 am
0
0
There isn't no comparison
Unpublished

There isn't no comparison being a supervisor and a regular employee. I was on a job once where each employee became supervisor for a day.
After that day, no employee wanted to be a supervisor.
It isn't an easy job.

Chillen
17
Points
Chillen 08/09/11 - 09:54 am
0
0
A raise in a depression.

A raise in a depression. Ain't govt life good?!

Justin4466
43
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Justin4466 08/09/11 - 09:56 am
0
0
This is what we get with an

This is what we get with an administrator with unchecked powers. There is noway that this would have passed the smell test a year ago. Hopefully Ms. McCord will continue this quest into this new found shift in power and unveil other surprises that have been put into practice uncheck.

augusta citizen
9692
Points
augusta citizen 08/09/11 - 09:57 am
0
0
Russell said, "In some cases,

Russell said, "In some cases, I might have given them more." Article then said, "A 15 percent increase is the most the adminstrator is allowed to give out under the city's new personnel manual without approval from the Augusta Commission." How much "more" did he want to give?? How insulting to those who were laid off. And the attempt to trim 2 million turned into $400,000.00, not acceptable!! Taxpayers need to hold them accountable to trim the 2 million they promised to trim.

follower
59
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follower 08/09/11 - 09:58 am
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0
Lori, I have 19 employees.

Lori, I have 19 employees. They haven't received raises in 3 years either. In fact, I cut my pay so their pay could stay the same, feeling I could afford it more than they could. At the same time, we had to accept a higher health insurance deductible as well, which is in effect, a reduction in their available income. How can any local, state, and federal concerns even consider giving raises to supervisors and ignoring the hourly staff?

Leaving a small opening for someone to explain otherwise, this appears to be insane.

Gothamist
26
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Gothamist 08/09/11 - 10:12 am
0
0
Keep furloughing the Cops and

Keep furloughing the Cops and Fireman Fred!!!!! Great Morale move!!!! How can he justify raises when he continues to furlough public safety people???????????

Lori Davis
958
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Lori Davis 08/09/11 - 10:12 am
0
0
Follower, I did the same

Follower, I did the same thing in my business. I took a pay cut and left everyone else the same. This city and our leaders are insane! Government employees need to ban together and protest some sort of way .It's been my experience that these employees have been afraid to rock the boat. It may be time.

Crime Reports and Rewards TV
33
Points
Crime Reports and Rewards TV 08/09/11 - 10:29 am
0
0
Kendrick fired the best

Kendrick fired the best manager the DMV tag office ever had, put one of "his" in and gave her a raise over the pay the older white lady got, and got sued for breaking the law. (We all know who will pay that humongus legal & settlement bill)

Went by the Tag office to see how this department head “pay raise” was working for us yesterday and the line was out the door into the sweltering heat. Our pictures PROVE that most of the DMV service windows were closed, there was no AC on those in line and it was out the door.

If Kendrick fired the older white lady with the perfect management record to install his “friend”, commits nepotism, wouldn’t let the Brinks truck pick up the $25,000 just before it went missing from his safe, tells the press the money was insured when it wasn’t,alludes to his replacing it, then won’t, breaks clearly written laws in front of God and everybody, WILL this town put up with this? Maybe Augusta Taxpayers DESERVE to be raped for being such suckers??

Willow Bailey
20603
Points
Willow Bailey 08/09/11 - 10:40 am
0
0
The leadership of Augusta

The leadership of Augusta appears to have absolutely no sense of right and wrong. Whose job is it to oversee the leadership? Would that not come under the mayor's duties?

Willow Bailey
20603
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Willow Bailey 08/09/11 - 10:48 am
0
0
cr&rtv, is their currently

cr&rtv, is their currently any organization...say "Citizens for Good Government"? If so, who is in charge? I think people care, they are just not informed as to how they can make a difference.

You know, "Tea, anyone"?

iLove
626
Points
iLove 08/09/11 - 10:49 am
0
0
Now do we see why Mr.
Unpublished

Now do we see why Mr. Lockettt and the other commissioners had so many questions earlier this year.....and you guys wanted to talk smack against them.....good ol Augusta.

iLove
626
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iLove 08/09/11 - 10:50 am
0
0
Women are too emotional. . .
Unpublished

Women are too emotional. . . .look at the schools in RC...how many of them are ran by women??? ...about 90%

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