MILFORD – The Caroline County Board of Supervisors discussed the feasibility of an incentive program for county employees when they worked on the 2013-14 fiscal year budget this week.
They kicked around an idea that has been floated in the past by Supervisors Jeff Black and Jeff Sili to develop an incentive program to reward employees who make suggestions that result in the county saving money.
As described by Supervisor Floyd Thomas, if a suggestion saves the county money, the program would reward the employee who came up with the idea with a percentage of the savings as some type of bonus.
The days of departments spending all the funds they are allocated “are gone,” said Thomas. If anything, for the foreseeable future local government remains in a position where agencies and departments should expect less funding, he said.
Supervisor Wayne Acors strongly opposed the idea. Acors said he favors the approach of rewarding all employees with regular annual raises.
A former state employee, now retired, Acors said a type of incentive program was tried in state government but was quickly jettisoned after a couple of years.
“I’m just not high on incentive programs,” he said. “They make work for a year, but they won’t work long-term.”
It is the responsibility of County Administrator Charles Culley to scrutinize department budget requests each year and ferret out waste or unnecessary expenditures, argued Acors. An incentive program could hurt employee morale by rewarding some employees, he suggested.
“What we’re trying to do is create an environment,” said Thomas, in which county employees would benefit from money-saving suggestions.
Supervisor Jeff Black noted that interim utilities director Joseph Schiebel saved the county about $100,000 with his proposal a year ago to switch to in-house recycling operations. Schiebel should be rewarded, he suggested.
“That’s his job,” responded Acors.
“We understand the downside,” said Thomas, board chairman. A majority of the board favors at least considering the concept, he said, and he directed Culley to research the idea and bring the board a recommendation.
“It’s a culture change…It’s worth a look,” said Thomas.